Skip to main content

Full text of "Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Ancient Irish History: Delivered at the Catholic ..."

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at |http : //books . google . com/ 







DURING THE SESSIONS OF 1866 akd 1856. 





[Tb* riyht of TrauaUtlou b rtterved.J 










If I have any regret for tKe shortcomings of tl 

analysis of the existing remains of our ancient Ui 

the evidences of the literary attainments and cult 

of our far removed ancestors, of the Milesian and 

I must sincerely declare that my regret arises muc 

the consciousness of my incapacity to do merited; 

subject, than from any concern for what my ow 

must suffer, in coming before the world in so 

character, and with such very incommensurate qi 

When the Catholic University of Ireland wai 

and its staff of Professors from day to day anno 

public papers, I felt the deepest anxiety as to ^ 

fessor of Irish History should be (if there should 

knowing that the only man living who could 

portant office with becoming efficiency as a schola 

engaged in one of the Queen's Colleges. At th; 

ever, I can honestly declare that it never entc 

mind that I should or ought to be called to fill tl 

situation, simply because the course of my stu 

History and Antiquities had always been of a si] 

was engaged, if I may so speak, only in underj 

and the labours in which I had spent my life w 

their results were never intended to be broug 

before the public on my own individui^ respoi 

person knows my bitterly felt deficiences better 

Having been, self-taught in all the little I knc 

letters, and reared to mature years among ai 

people (though a people both intelligent, and i^ 




when opportunity permits them to apply themselves to it), I 
always felt the want of early mental training, and of early 
admission to those great fountains of knowledge which can be 
approached only through the medium of languages which, 
though once generally cultivated in my native province, had, 
under sinister influences, ceased to exist in the remote part of 
the country from which I come, not very long before I was 
born. And it never occurred to me that I should have been 
deemed worthy of an honour which, for these reasons, I should 
not have presumed to seek. To say so much I feel due, not 
only to myself, but to the exalted and learned personages who, 
without any solicitation whatever on my part, overlooked my 
many deficiences so far as to appoint me to the newly created 
Chair of Irish History and Archaeology in this National Uni- 

The definite idea of such a Professorship is due to the dis- 
tinguished scholar to whom the first organization of the Uni- 
versity was committed. It was that idea which suggested the 
necessity for this first course of Lectures, ^' On the MS. Matecials 
of Ancient Irish History", as well as for that which immediately 
followed it, and in which I am still engaged, ''On the Social 
Customs, Manners, and Life of the People of Ancient Erinn" ; 
— two preliminary or introductory courses, namely, on the two 
subjects to which this professorship is dedicated: on the exist- 
ing remains of our History, and the existing monuments of our 
ArchaBology. For, without meaning the smallest disparage- 
ment to previous labourers in these fields, I found, on exa- 
mining tkeir works, that, although much had been done in 
particular directions, and by successive writers, who more or 
less followed and improved upon, or corrected, each other, 
still the great sources of genuine historical and antiquarian 
knowledge lay buried in those vast but yet almost entirely 
unexplored compilations, which to my predecessors were inac- 
cessibly sealed up in the keeping of the ancient Gaedhelic, the 
venerable language of our country. To point out the only way 
to remedy this state of things, then, and if possible, by a critical 
analysis of the great mass of documents which still remains to 
us in the anci^t tongue, to open the way, — as far as lay in my 


power, — to the necessary examination of these precious records 
and materials, was the scope and aim of my first course of 
Lectures; those now collected in the present volume. That 
I have not succeeded in placing this interesting subject before 
the reader in as clear and attractive a form as it deserves, is 
but too painfully apparent to myself; but if I shall have sue* 
ceeded in drawing the attention' of the student to the necessity 
of making an independent examination of it for himself, I 
shall have attained one of the dearest objects of my life, and I 
shall feel that I have not struggled wholly without success in 
endeavouring to do my duty to my country so far as it lies in 
my power to do at all. As to the work itself, its literary 
defects e^art, I may claim for it at least the poor merit of being 
the first effort ever made to bring within the view of the 
student of Irish History and Archaeology an honest, if not a 
complete, analysis of all the materials of that yet imwritten 
story which lies accessible, indeed, in our native language, but 
the great body of which, the flesh and blood of all the true 
History of Ireland, remains to this day unexamined and un- 
known to the world. 

Under the existing circumstances of this poor dependent 
country, no work of this kind could well be undertaken at the 
expense of the time and at the risk of a private individual. 
This difficulty, however, so far as concerns remuneration for 
labour, and expense of publication of its result, has been 
happily obviated in a way that even a few years ago could 
hardly have occurred to the mind of the most hopefiil among 
us. It reflects, surely, no small credit on the infant Catholic 
University of Ireland, and conveys no light assurance of the 
national feeling which animated its founders firom the begin- 
ning, not only that it was the first public establishment in the 
country spontaneously to erect a Chair of Irish History and 
Archseology^ but that it has provided with unhesitating libe- 
rality for the heavy expense of placing this volume — ^the first 
fruits of that Chair, and the first publication imdertakeu under 
such auspices — before the public. 

Little indeed did it occur to me on the occasion of my first 
timid appearance in that chair, that the efforts of my feeble 


pen would pass beyond the walls witUn which these Lectures 
were delivered. There was, however, among my varying 
audience one constant attendant, whose presence was both etti- 
barrassing and encouraging to me, — whose polite expressions 
at the conclusion of each Lecture I scarcely dared to receive as 
those of approbation, — ^but whose kindly sympathy practically 
exhibited itself, not in mere words alone, but in the active 
encouragement he never ceased to afibrd me as I went along ; 
often, for example, reminding me that I was not to be uneasy 
at the apparent shortness of a course of Lectures, the prepara- 
tion of which required so much of labour in a new Geld; and 
assuring me thaton his eyes, and in the eyes of those who had 
committed the TJqlversity to his charge, quantity was of far 
less importance than accuracy in careful examination of the 
wide range of subjects which it was my object to digest and 
^urange. At the conclusion of the course, however, this great 

' scholar and pious priest (for to whom can I allude but to our 
late illustrious Rector, the Rev. Dr. Newman), — whose warmly 
felt and oft expressed sympathy with Erinn, her wrongs and 
her hopes, as well as her history, I am rejoiced to have an op- 
portunity thus publicly to acknowledge, — astonished me by 

. announcing to me on the part of the University, that my poor 
tectures were deemed worthy to be published at its expense. 
Nor can I ever forget the warmth with which Dr. Newman 
congratulated me on this termination of my first course, any 
more than the thoughtfulness of a dear ftiend with which he 
encouraged and advised me, during the progress of what was to 
me so difficult a task, that, left to myself, I believe I should 
soon have surrendered it in despair. 

With respect to the subjects treated in the following pages, a 
glance at the Table of Contents of the Chapters formed by 
these Lectures (see page xiii.), will best explain the plan 
followed in this atten^ to analyse the contents of the whole 
body of MSS. in the Gaedhelic language, the investigation of 
which must form an indispensable preliminary to the accurate 
study of the History of the coimtry. I need not recapitulate 
here ; nor need I again refer to the importance of every separate 


PtfKFACB. ix 

section into which such an analysis divides itself. It will be 
found, however, that of all the writers who have published 
books on the subject, up to the time of delivering these Lectures, 
— ^books, some of them large and elaborate, — not one ever wrote 
who had previously acquired the necessary qualifications, or 
even applied himself at all to the necessary study, without 
which, as I think I have established beyond a doubt, the 
History of Ireland could not possibly have been written. All 
were ignorant, almost totally ignorant, of the greater part of the 
records and remains of which I have here, for the first time, 
endeavoured to present a comprehensive and in some sort a 
connected account. And even though this volume will not, I 
know, be found as satisfactory to the stude^^t as it might be 
made in other hands ; yet such, nevertheless, appears to me to 
be the want of some guide to so vast a mass of materials a£ ttat 
which still lies buried in our Irish MS. Libraries, that I trust it 
will be found in this respect at least to fulfil the intention of 
the University Authorities when they determined to undertake 
the publication. 

This first volume, this first course of Lectures, has been ex- 
clusively devoted to an account of the available materials actu- 
ally existing in MS. for the preparation of a General History 
of Erinn. The succeeding course, already alluded to, will 
necessarily be considerably greater in extent; and if I am 
enabled to realize the hope of placing that course also before 
the public in a future volume (or rather volumes, for it will 
demand, I fear, at least two such as this), it will be found to be 
the complement of the present. It embraces the detailed ex- 
amination of : — 1° the system of Legislation, and Government, 
in ancient Erinn; 2° the system of ranks and classes in 
Society ; 3° the Religious system (if that of Druidism can be 
so called) ; 4^ the Education of the people, with some account 
of their Learning in ancient times ; 6° the Military system, 
including the system of Military Education, and some account 
of the Gaedhelic Chivalry, or Ojders of Champions ; 6° the 
nature, use, and manufacture of Arms uised in ancient times ; 
7° the Buildings of ancient times, both public, military, and 
domestic, and the Furniture of the latter; 8^ the materials 


and forms of Dress, as well as its laanufacture and ornamenta- 
tion; 9° the Ornaments (including those of gold and other 
metals) used bj all classes, and their manufacture ; 10° ihe 
Musical Instruments of the Ghiedhelic people, with some account 
of their cultivation of Music itself; 11® the Agriculture of 
ancient times, and the implements of all sorts employed in it; 
12® the Commerce of the ancient Gaedhil, including some 
account of the Arts and Manufactures of very early times, as 
well as of the nature and extent of the intercourse of the people 
with traders of other nations; and 13® their Funeral Rites, and 
places of SepultujB. Of these great divisions of my present 
general course, I am happy to say that all but the last three 
have been completed, and that the Lectures forming these are 
now nearly ready for the press, — should the public reception of 
this first volume be so indulgent as to permit me to hope that 
the remainder may be allowed to appear in turn. 

I cannot conclude these prefatory remarks without bespeak- 
ing the attention of my readers to two important features in the 
present volume which I trust will be found to possess no little 
value. I allude to the very extensive Appendix ; and to the 
interesting series of Fag-Similbs, which will be found at the 

In the Appendix I have not only given in full the original 
text of every one of the very numerous quotations from the 
^cient Gaedhelic MSS. referred to and translated in the text, — 
(extracts which will, I hope, be found useful and convenient to 
the student at a distance from our libraries, both as authorities 
and as examples also of the language, the records quoted being 
compositions of almost every age during many centuries back), — 
but also many original pieces of great importance, not hitherto 
published, which I have endeavoured to edit fully with trans- 
lation and notes/"^ Besides these, I have there collected also se- 
veral separate notes andmemoranda upon various subjects, which 

(»> The end of the Appendix (p.^4,— App. No. CLVII.), I hare thought 
it right to insert a statement respecting the Irish MSS. at St. Isidore^s, in 
Borne, drawn up, since these Lectures were delivered, for the Senate of the 
Uniyersity. It will be found to contain some interesting matter in connection 
with the subject of this volume. 


could not properly have been introduced in the course of the 
Lectures themselves. The preparation of this Appendix has 
cost me, I may almost say, as much labour as that of the entire 
text ; and it has been a chief cause of the great delay which 
has taken place in the publication of the book. 

In the series of Fac-Similes (the addition of which was 
adopted on the suggestion of my learned colleague and friend, 
Dr. W. K. O'Sullivan), I have taken advantage of the oppor- 
tunity presented by the publication of a general work on our 
early MSS. to lay before the learned in other countries a com- 
plete set of examples of the handwriting of the best Gaedhelic 
scribes, from the very earliest period down to the century 
before the last. For this purpose I have for the most part 
selected my examples from those passages which have been 
quoted in the text, and of which the original Gaedhelic will be 
found in the Appendix, in order that scholars may be able to 
compare the contracted writing with the full sentences as 1 have 
expanded them. But I have also inserted several examples, 
(as in the instances of the earliest Latin ecclesiastical MSS. 
one of which is, I believe, contemporary with St. Patrick, and 
three of which are attributed to the very hand of St. Cobim 
Cill{)y from writings which are mentioned indeed, but whidh 
there was no occasion to quote in the course of the Lectures. 
These fac-similes have been executed with admirable correct- 
ness in the establishment of Messrs. B'orster, lithographers, of 
this city. I can confidently recommend them to Continental 
scholars as perfect representations of the handwriting of various 
ages; and I hope they may be found of some practical use, not 
only in the identification of Gaedhelic MSS. yet hidden in 
foreign libraries, but also in the determination of the ages of the 
MSS. with which they may be compared. They will be found 
to be arranged in chronological order. 

I have to apologize for the length of time which has elapsed 
from the first announcement of tfcis book to its publication, as 
well as for the many errors, of print and others, which- will be 
detected in it, but most of which will be found corrected at the 
end of the volume. Those, however, who are awaie of the 


crushing succession of domestic afflictions and of bodily infir- 
mities with which it has pleased Providence to visit me during 
the last three years, will, I am sure, look with indulgent eyes 
on these defects, as well as on those concerning which I have 
already confessed and asked pardon beforehand. 

In conclusion, I have only to acknowledge the deep obliga- 
tions imder which I am placed by the kindness of many emi- 
ment literary friends in the preparation of this volume. Among 
these I cannot but warmly thank, in particular, the learned 
Secretary of the Brehon Law Conmiission, the Very Rev. 
Charles Graves, F.T.C.D., Dean of the Chapel Royal, for 
much of kind consideration and many valuable suggestions; 
the Rev. James H. Todd, S.F.T.C.D., President of the Royal 
Irish Academy, to whom, with my last named friend, the 
revival of Irish literature owes so much, and whose countenance 
and cordial assistance to me have been for so many years of 
inestimable value; my dear friends, John Edward Pigot, 
M.R.I.A., and Dr. Robert D. Lyons, M.R.I.A., from whom I 
received most valuable assistance in the plan and original pre- 
paration of these Lectures ; and to the former of whom I owe, 
in addition, the untiring devotion of the vast amount of time 
and trouble involved in the task his friendship imdertook for 
me of correcting the text, and preparing for, and passing 
through the press the whole of this volume ; and my able and 
truly learned friend, Mr. Whitley Stokes, who prepared for 
me the references to the MSS. quoted by Zeuss (pp. 27, 28 of 
this volume), the only new passage, I believe, which has been 
introduced into the text of the following Lectures since their 

Eugene O'Curry. 

Dablin, Deeember 15, 1860. 


LBCTURB I. Introduction. Ov the Lost Bookb, etc., . . 1-^28 

Natural reyerence for ancient monnmentB and records, 1. — ^Neglect of Antiquarian 
inquiry in Ireland, 2. — Elevated rank of men of learning under the ancient IriBh 
law, 8.— Great antiquity of literature in Erinn, 8. — Of literature in ancient Erina 
before the time of St. Patrick, 4.— Loss of the earlier writings, and its causes, 5. — 
Neglect of the language in more modern times, 6.— Literature, nerertheless, 
encouraged by the native chieftains, even after the loss of national independence^ 
6, 7. — Or THB Lost Books of Ancient Ebinn, 7.— The Cuilmenn, 8.— The 
Saltair of Tara, 9.— Poem by Cuan (yLochain, 10— The Book of the Ua Chong- 
hhaU, 18 — The On Droma Snechta, 18.— Its anthor, 13, 14.— The Senchu* Mdr, 
or Great Book of Laws, 16. — ^Account of a privi^ library (that of St. Longarad^ 
of Ossoiy) in the 6th century, 17.— The Book of St. Mochta, 19.— The Book of 
Cuana, 19.— The Book of Z>tf6A dd LeUh€, 19.— The Saliair of Gashel, 19.— tist 
of the Lost Books recorded, 20.— Lost Books extant in Keating*s time, 21.— Lost 
Books known to the O'Clerys, 21, 22.— The Irish MSS. in the Library of Trin. 
Coll., Dublin, 23.— MSS. in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, 24.— Iriih 
MSS. in the Library of the British Museum, and in the Bodleian Library at 
Oxford, 25.— Other collections of Irish MSS. in England, 25.— Irish MSS. on the 
Continent— Brussels, Paris, Borne, etc., 26.— Irish MSS. referred to in the Gram^ 
matica CMea of Zeuss, 27. 

LECTURE n. Or the Earliest Existino MSS., . . 29—51 

Account of the CuUmenn, 29 and 41.— Of the recovery of the Tale of the Tdm B6 
Chuailgn^j 29.— Account of the Tdin B6 Ckuailgn^j 30.— Personal descriptions in 
this ancient tale, 37, 38. — Mythical and legendary inventions introduced into it, 
39.— Historical value of this tale, 40.— Authorship of the Saliair of Tara, 42.— 
Account of King Cormac Mac Airt, 42.— Personal description of King Gormacj 
44, 45. — ^Laws and legal writings of the reign of Cormac^ 46. — Of the Book of 
Aeaia, AH.—Ctimfalad " the Learned", 48. 

LECTURE in. Or THE Eablt Historic Wbitebs. The Ancient Annals, 52—73 
Lift of the principal Annals, 52.— Of the earlier Chronologists and Historians, 
53.— The Synchronisms of Flann of Monasterboice (11th century), 53«— The 
Chronological Poem of GUla Caemkain^ 55. — Of Tighemachf the Annalist, 57 
and 61.— Account of the Monastery of Clonmacnoise, and ^f its foundation by 
St. Ciaran (6th century), 58. — Of the Anhali or Tiohernach, €2. — ^The Chro* 
nological Poem of Eodiaidh 0*Flinn, 69. — Account of the foundation of Bmania, 
B.C. 405 (taken by Tightmach as the starting point of credible Irish History), 
70.— The Destruction of Bmania by ''the Three CoUa^* (a.d. 331), 72, 


LECT0BE IV. Tax Amcibnt Annals (continued), . . . 74—93 

Continuation of the Annals of Tighemach^ 74.— Of the Annals ov IvmsvALLw, 
75 and 79.— Of the monastery of Inis Failktenn, in Loch Lein (Killarnej), 75. — 
Of Maeisuthain CCtarhhdill (secretary and oounsdlor of Brian Borumka\ 76. — 
Legend concerning him, 76. — Of the so-called Annals of Botlk, 81 (and see 

105) Historical writers of the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries, 82.— Of the 

Annals of Ulstbk, 83. 

LECTURE V. Thk Ancient Annals (continued), . 93—119 

Of the Annals of Loch Cb (improperly called the ** Annals of Kilronaa")^ ^' — 
Account of them, 100. — Extracts and examples, 101. — Account of the Battle of 
Maffh ShchtiA.i>. 1256), 101.— Of the Annals of Connacht, 104 and 113. — 
Of the Annals of Botlb, 105.— Of the use of the Annals as materials for his- 
tory, 119. 

LECTURE VI. The Ancibnt Annals (continued), . . . 120—139 

Of the Chronicux Scotorum, 120 and 126.— Of the life and death at Duhhaliach 
Mac Firbigigh of Lecain (Duald Mac Firbis), and of his Book of Pedigrees, 
120-122.— His yarious works, 123.- Of the Books of Lecain, and the Mac Firbis 
family, 125.— Title and Preface of the Chbonicdtc Scotoruh, 127. — Of the 
Annals of Clonxacnois, 130. — ^The Story of Queen Gormlaith, 132. — Address 
and Dedication of the Annals of Clonmacnois, 135-6. — Authorities quoted by the 
translator, 137. 

LECTURE VIL The Ancient Aknals (continued), . 140—161 

Ofihe Annals of the Four Masters, 140, and 145, and 155. — Of the ** Con- 
tention of the Bards", U1.~Account of the O'Clerys, 142. — Colgan's account of 
the ** Four Masters", and particularly of Michael O'Clery, 143.— Dedication of 
the Annals of the Four Masters, 146.— The '< Testimonium", 147.— Of the Chro- 
nology adopted by the Four Masters, 151. — Mistake of Moore in his ^ History of 
Ireland'*, 153 — Anecdote of Moore, 154. — Of the race of Fergal O'Gara (to whom 
the Annals are dedicated), 157. — Of the published editions of these Annals, 159. — 
Of the splendid edition by Dr. John 0*DonoTan, published by Mr. George Smith, 

LECTURE Vin. ThbWore8ofthe**Four Masters^', . 162—180 

Of 0'Clery*s Succession of the Kings (/2etm RiogkraidhS), 162— Preface to 
this work, 163.— Dedication and Address to the Reader, 164> 165.— Of O'Clery's 
Book of Invasions (Leabkar Gabhdla), 168.~Dedication to it, 168. — Preface, or 
Address to the Reader, 169.— Of the other works of Michael O'CIery, 178. The 
O'Cleiy MS& in Belgium, 174.— Of Michael O'Clery's Glossary, 175. Dedication 
to it, 175.— Preface or Address to the Reader, 176. — Of the writings of Ciicoiy- 
c^ric^^ (caUed "Peregrine") O'CIery, 178. 

LECTURE IX. Of the chief existing Ancient Books, . . 181—202 

Of the old MSS. still existing, 181-2.— Of the Leabhar na h-Uidhrb (Book ' 
of the Dun Cow, of St. Ciaran), 182.— Of the Book of Leinster, 186.— Of the 
Book of Ballvmoti^ 188.— The LeaBhar Mor Dvna Doiohrb (called Leabhar 
Breac% 190, (and see also P. 852.>-Of the Yellow Book of Lecain, 190.— The 
Book of Lsgain, 192.— Of tlie pnncipal yellum MSS. in T.C.D., 192.— Of the 
MSS. in the Library of the R.LA., f{95.— Of the Book of Lismore, 196.-^Of the 
MS. books of Laws (called in English the «*Brehon Laws'*), 200-201. 


LECTURE X. Of the Books or Genbalooies and Pbdiorbks, 208—228 

Of the system of official record of the Genealogies, etc., in ancient Erinn, 203«4.~ 
Credibility of the antiquity of our Genealogies, 205. — Actual historical account of 
them, 205-6.— Of the Milesian Geneakgies, 206-7.— The Lines of jE;60r and Ert- 
mon, 207.— The Irian and Ithian races, 207.— Of the Eremonian Pedigrees, and of 
UgainiMdr, 207-8.— Of the Dalcassians, and the Eoghanachts of Munster, 208. 
—Genealogy of the O^Briens, and other Munster clanns, from OUioU Oilum, 208-9. 
— Genealogy of the Dalcassians, from Cormac Gas^ 218. — Of the importance of the 
reovded* Genealogies under the ancient law, 218-14. — Family names first intro- 
duced {circa ▲ D. 1000), 214.— Distinction between a *' Genealogy" and a *< Pedi- 
gree'*, 214.— Form of the old Genealogical Books, 215.— Mac Firbis' Book of 
Genealogies, 215 — ^Title and Preface of it, 216.— Ancient Poem on the charac- 
teristics of different races, 224. 

LECTURE XL On the Existing Ancient Histories. The Historrt Tales, 229-250 
Of the existing pieces of detailed History in the Gaedhelic language, 229.-*The 
History of the Obigin of the Bobouean Tribute, 230. — The History of the 
Wars of the Danes with the Gaedhil, 232.— The History of the Wars of 
Thomond, 283.— The Book of Munster, 237.— Of THE HISTORIC TALES, 
238.— Nature of these compositions, 289.— Of the education and duties of an 
OUamh, 239.— Of the authority of the "Historic Tales", as pieces of authentic 
history, 241. — Of the classes into which they are divided, 243.— 1^ of the Catha 
cor Battles), 243.— Tale of the " Battle of Magh Tidreadh'\ 244.— Tale of the 
Battle of Magh Tuireadh of the Fomorians, 247. 

LECTURE Xn. The Historic Tales (continued), . . . 251—272 

2^ Of the LoNOASA (or Voyages); Tale of the Voyage of Labhraidh Lomgseachy 
251-2.— Of the Music and Musicians of ancient Erinn, 255.-3^ of the Toohla 
(or Destructions), 258.^Tale of the '* Destruction of the Bruighean Da Dtrga^^ 

258.— Tale of the ** Destruction of the Bruighean Da Choga'\ 260 4° Of the 

Aironb (or Slaughters), 26a— Tale of the *' Slaughters of Congal Cldringnach'*, 
260-l.«— Tale of the Beyolt of the Aitheach Tuatha (called the " Attacotti", or 
" AtUoots"), 262-3.— 50 Of the Forbasa (or Sieges), 264-5.— Tale of the " Siege 
of Edair" (Howth), 265.— AUhim^ *' the importunate**, 266.— Tale of the << Siege 
of Drom Damhghair^, 281.— Druidism, 271. ■ 

LECTURE XIII The Historic Tales (continued), . . 278—296 

6^ Of the Oittb, or Aideadha (Tragedies, or Deaths), 273.— Tale of the 
«♦ Death of Conckobhar Mac Nessa"*, 273-4.— Tale of the «* Death of Maelfartha- 
tach Mac R6naiiC\ 277.— 7«^ Of the Tana (or Cow-Spoils), 277.— Tale of " the 
Tdm Bo CkuaUgn^\ 277-8.-8^ Of theTocHMARCA (or Courtships and Espousals), 
278.— Tale of the « Courtship of Emer^y by Cuchulainn, 278.— Of the several 
other celebrated Tales of " Courtships", 282-8. 9^ Of the Uatha (or Caves), 
283.— Reference to several celebrated Tales concemmg Caves, 283.-10^. Of the 
Echtrai (or Adventures), 283.— References, 283.-11^ Of the Sluaightadha (or 
Military Expeditions), 284.— Tale of the *< Expedition of Daihi to the Alps", 

284.-12° Of the Imraxha (or Expeditions by Sea), 288 Tale of the " Expedi- 

tio« of the Sons of Ua Corra'*, 289.— Of the remaining classes of Historic Tales: 
" Fessa"* (Feasts or Banquets) ; " Aithidh^* (or Elopements) ; " Sercc^* (Loves, or 


Lore-storief); " Tomhadhma*' (Lake-Irruptions) ; <* Tochomlada" (ImmigratioBa 
of CoToniet) ; " Fu" (or Yinoiu), 29i~5. 

LECTURE XIV. Or tbs IxAaiXATiys Talm» and Pobxb, • . 296-^19 

Of the Andent ImaginaiiTd Tales and Po^na, and of the nae to be made of them 
in serioiu Hiatorical inTestigation,, 296.— Of the Fmkjlk Posms, 299.— Of the 
Poems, etc, ascribed to Oiiin (or Ossian), dOO, and 304. Classifleation of the 
FxxnAif Poxxs AH» Talu, 801.— Poenu ascribed to Finn Mae Ctankaill, 302.— 
Of Ois^ (or Ossian), and the Poems a^ribed to him, 304.— Poems ascribed to 
Fergus *' FifmbhediT*, mm fii Finn, 800.— Poems aKribed to CaeilU Hm Romm^ 
306.— Of the "Agallamh na StandrachT (or "Dialogue of the Ancient Men**), 
807.— The Story of Cos/ O'N&amkain and the Lady Credit, 308.— Description of 
an ancient mansion and its furniture, 309. — Of other Fenian Poems, 312.— Of the 
Fenian Talks in Prose, 318— Tale of the " Pursuit of Diarmaid and Grotimtf **, 
318.— Tale of the "Battle of Finntragha^ (or Ventry Harbour), 315.-.Tale of 

the*' Flight of the Slothful FeUow**, 816 Beferenoe to sereral other andent 

Imaginative Tales, 81 &— Beference to the " Three Sorrowful Tales of Erinn", 819. 

LECTUBE XV. Of tbn Bbhains op thb Barlt CaBisriAN Pxaiod, 820-^888 
Andent Erinn called the "Island of the Saints", 320.— Nature of the existing 
remains of the early Christian period in Erinn, 821.— Andent copies of the sacred 
writings, 821.— Of the "Domhnach Aiboid*, and its shrine, 322.— Of the 
Catbach, and its shrine, 327.— Of the relic called the CuUefadk of Saint Colum 
CilU, 832.— Of other relics called by this name, 834-5.— Of yarious other shrines, 
(MS.) relics, 335.— Of the andent Beliquaries, Bells, Croaers, Crosses, etc, still 
preserved to us, 836. 

* LECTUBE XVL Of thb bablt Ecclesiastical MSS., . 839—854 

Of the early Lives of the Saints of Erinn, 839 (and see 858).— Of the writings of 

Colgan and Keating, 341 Saint Adamnan's Life of Saint Colum CilU^ 842.— 

Saint Flaoc*8 lofe of Saint Patrick, 343.— The Tripartite Life of Saint Patrick, 344. 
— Of the Contents of the Leabhar M&r Duna Doighr€ (called the Leabhar Br4ac\ 
in the B.I.A., 852— Of the study of the andent ** Martyrologies**, and other 
andent Ecclesiastical MSS., in the Gaedhelic, 353. 

LECTUBE XVII. Of tbb Eablt EccLBSLiSTicAL MSS. (continued), 855—871 
Of the causes of the loss and dispersion of Irish Ecdesiastical and Historical MSS. 
during the last three centuries, 355. — ^Analysis of what remains of the most impor- 
tant of the Ecdesiastical MSa, 867.— liyes of the Saints of Erinn, 358.— Of the 
Pedigrees and Genealogies of the Saints of Erinn, 358. — Of those ascribed to 
Aengus CeiU 2>^ 859.— Of the " Martyrologies", or " Festo]ogie8^ 360.— Of the 
SaUair na Rann, 860. — Of the Martyrology of Mdelmuir^ Ua Gormain (Marianus 
Gorman), 361.— Of the Martyrology of Tamhlackt, 862.— Of the Felire (or Festo- 
logy)ofi4eii^M« C«t7«/>«,868.— The "Canon'* of FotAaiA*'iia Cajwwe*',364.— The 
Invocation from the Felire of AenguSf 365. 

LECTUBE XVIII. Of tbb Eablt Ecclesl^tioal MSS. (continued), of tbb 
so-CALLBD " Pbopbbcies", ..... 372 — 391 
l^' of the Canons, 372.— Of the connection of the Church of St. Patrick with the 
Holy See, 373.-2^ Of the Ecdesiastical and Monastic Bulbs, 373.— 3^ Of 
an Ancient Treatise on the Mass, 376.-4^ Of an Ancient Form of the Consesea- 
tion of a Chuzdi, 378.-5° Of ancient Prayers, Invocations^ and Litanies, 378.— 


3^ Of ancient Prayers, Invocations, and Litanies, 378.— The Prayer of Saul; 
Aireran »* the Wise", 378-9.— The Prayer of Colffu Ua DuinccAcfa, 879.— Ancient 
Litany of the Blessed Virgin, 880.— The Litany of Aengus CeiUDe, 380.— Of th^ 
so-called " Prophecies" ascribed to \l» Saints of Erinn, 382— Of the so-oalled 
"Prophbcieb" anterior to'the time of Saint Patrick, 383.— Of the "^Prophecy" 
m the Dialogue of the Two Sages" {Agallamh an dd Shuadh), 383.— Of the '* Pro- 
phecies" ascribed to Conn of the Hundred Battles (the BaiU Chuinn, etc.), 385.— 
Of the " Prophecy" ascribed to irfny Art " thp Lonely", 391 . 

LECTURE XrX,-:-OF the so-called " Propheciwb" (continued), . 392—411 

Of the "Prophecies" ascribed to Finn Mac Cumhaill, 892.— Of the Legend of Finn's 
« Thtmb of Knowledge", 396.— Of the " Prophecy" of the coming of Saint Patrick 
attributed to the Druids of King Laeghatre, 397.— Of the *' Prophecies" ascribed 
to the Saints of Erinn, 398.— Of the " Prophecies" of Saint Caillin, 898.— Of the 
"Prophecies" of Big Mac De, 399.— Of the " Prophecies" of Saint Colwn CilU, 
899.— Of the apocrjrphal character of the so-called " Prophecies", 410. 

LECTURE XX. Of the so-called " Prophecies" (contmued), 412—434 • 

Of the " Prophecies" of St. Berchdn, 412.—" Prophecy" ascribed to St. Bncin, 
418.— "Prophecy" ascribed to St. Moling, 419.— Of the "Prophecy" ascribed to 
Sedna (6th century), 422.— Of the "Prophecy" ascribed to Maeltamhlachta, 423. 
— Of the " Prophecies" concerning the Fatal Festival of Saint John the Baptist, 
423.— Dishonest use made of forged and pretended "Prophecies", 430-1.— Giral- 
dus Cambrensis and John De Courcy, 432 — Sir Geoi^ge Carew, 484: 

LECTURE XXI. Recapitulation. How the Histort of Erinm is to be 

WRITTEN ....... 435—468 

Recapitulation, 435. — Of the yarious writers on the HislOKy of Erinn, 441. — 
Moore's "History of Ireland", 441.— Keating's History, 442. — Mac Geoghggan's 
History, 442.—" Cambrensis Eversus" (Lynch), 443.— The History of Erinn 
must be written on the basis of the Annals, 443.— Of how to set about a History 
of Erinn, 444. — Of the ancient traditions concerning the Milesian Colony j 446.— 
Of the Cruithneans, or Picts, 460.— Of the reign of Ugain^ Mdr, iBL^Oi the 
reign of Labraidh Loingseach, 462. — Of the reign of Cotiair^ Mdr, 463. — Of Con- 
chobhar Mac Nesaa, 453.— Of the Revolution of the Aitheach Tuatha (or " At- 
tacots"), 453.— Of the reign of Conn'' Cead-CatAach" (Conn "of the Hundred 
Battles"), 453.— Of the reign of Niall '' NaoirGhxallacK' {Ntmll "of the Nine 
Hostages"), 454.— Of King Daihi, 454.— Of the use to be made of the " Historic 
Tales", the Monumental Remains, and the Ecclesiastical MSS., 45^466.— Of 
other misceUaneous materials for a History of Erinn, 466.— Of the necessity for 
the study of the Gaedhelic language ; and of the want of a Dictionary, 457.— 
Conclusion, 458. 

APPENDIX ....... 461—643 

APP. No. I. (P. 2). Of the Fili and Filibecht . . 461 

APP. No. XI. (P. 4). Of writing in Erinn before St. Patrick's time . 463 

Of the Oghum character, and its uses, 464.— Of the Tale of BaiU Mac Buain, 
464.— Inscribed Tablets before the tune of Art ^a.d. 166), 466 and 470.— Cormac 
CuUennain versed in Oghum, 468.— Of the Tale of the Exile of the Sons of Duil 
Dermait (drca a.i>. 1), 468.— Of the Tale of Core, son of Lughaidh (a.d. 400)^ 
469.— O'Flaherty on the Use of Letters In ancient Erinn, 409.— Of Cuchorb, 480. 

2* . 



TaIiK of BaiU Mac Buttin (original, with translation and notes) . 472 

Pof:h by AiMe\ daughter of Cormac Mac Airt (circa a.d. 260), original, with 
trans [aition and notes), ..... 476 

Poem ou ttio B^ath of Cuc^ ^ s by Meadhbh, daughter of Conn ** of the Hundred 
BiittW*(Bc, U(ori>rinRl, with translation, and notes), . . 480 

AFP. No. I LI. (P. 5). 'Jliree f\fns by Ddbhthach Ua LuoAtll {ChUf Poet of the 
Mnnartih Laeghathk:, a.b, 4:}2\ on the Triumpl^s of Enna Censeulcb, und his 
mn Chiiituann, Kings of Ltiniter (tfriginal, with translation and notes), 482 

APP. No, IV. (P. 8). Onylfri/ of Passage concerning the CuiLMEMir, from the 
Book of Lei lifter, * . . . . . ^ 494 

APP. No. V. (P. D, and 31). *f 'fjinal (yith translation) of Passage in an ancient 
L'iw Glossary e^rplaininf/ the '' Seven Orders of Wisdorn" (under the title Caoo- 
dach), ....... 494 

APP* No. Yl. (P. 10), O^v'V of Passage in Poem of Cuajx Ua Lochain, on 

^-fr^^ rr;/*rnV; 6.. rAc SaI.TAIR, ..... 496 

APP. No. VII. (P* 11), Origbml of passage from the "Book of the Ua Cong- 
^ bhiiir, referring to the Sai^taib, ..... 496 

APP, Nfi, VIII. (P. 12). Original of Passage from Keating, referring to the 

Baltaiii, ....... 497 

APP." No. IX. (P. 13). Original of reference to the CiWN Droha Snechta in the 

Hooks of Bali y mote and Lecain, .... 497 

APP. No, X, (P, 13), Qnginttl of second r^erence to the same in the Book of 

Lecain, ....... 497 

APP, No. XI, (P. 14). Original of third reference to the same in the Book of 

Lecaia, ....... 497 

AFP. No, XIL (P, 14). Original of reference to the same, in Keating, . 498 

APP. Xo- XIIL (P. 14). Origimd of passage in the Book of Leinster concerning 

the CiN DfiOMA Snxchta, ..... 498 

APP. No. XIV. (P. 15, 1 G> Pedigree of Duach Galach, King of Connacht (in the 

early pari of the 5th century), ..... 498 

APP. No* XV. (P. 15), Original of second reference to the Cllf Droma Snechta, 

in Keating ; and onr/inal (teitft translation) of corresponding passage in the Uraich- 

echt^ in the BooLs of BallyinoU and Lecain, . • . . 601 

APP, No XVI. (P. 15). Original of second passage in the Book of Leinster, con- 
cerning the sftme^ . . . , . .501 
APP. No. XVII, (P. 17). Original of Verse (and Gloss) from the Felire Aengusa, 

referring to the Library n/Longarad (temp, St Colum CiUe), . . 601 

APP. No. XVIII. (P. 29.) OJ Lbtha, the ancient name for Italy in the 

Gaedhelic, ....... 602 

APP. No, XTX. (P. 32), Original of passage concerning the Cuilkbnn, in the 

Leabhar Af or Duna Doighre, ..... 604 

APP, No, XX, (P, 32), Original of passages concerning the same in two ancient 

Glossariefi (74, R.T.A. j and IL 8, 18, T.C.D.), ... 604 

APP, No XXI. (P. 36). Of Me, Ben Sidhb ("Banshee"), ISidh.—Fersidhe.— 

Bcmidhe~lj ,,..... 604 

AFP, No, XXII. (P, 38), Oriffinal of Descr^tion of the Champion, Heochaid Mac 

¥atHemain,^-am M« ancient T<U$ of the Tain Bo Chuailgnk, . 606 


APP. No, XXIII. (P. 38). Original of Description of the Champion Fergna, /row 
the same, ....... 506 

APP. No. XXIV. CP.38). Original of Description of Prince Erc, /row the same, 606 

APP. No. XXV. (P. 41). Of the date of the Tain Bo Chuailgnb (with extracts, in 
original, ivith translation of passages from the MS, H. 3. 17., T.C.D., and the Book 
of Ballymote), .•..., 607 

APP. No. XXVI. (P. 44). Original of Description of Cobmac Mac Aiht at the 
Assembly of Tara ; from the Book of Ballgmotej . . . 610 

APP. No. XXVII. (P. 47). Original of commencetnent of Preface to the Book op 
Acaill (in the MS. E. 5, T.C.D.^, attributed to King Cormac Mac Airt, . 611 

APP. No. XXVIII. (P. 49, and 51). Original of remainder ofsamej . 612 

Original of another version of the latter portion of this passage (from the MS. H. 
3. 18.,T.C.D.), 513.— Poem, by Cinaeth O'Hartigain (a.1). 973), from the Book of 
Ballymote (original, and translation), 513-14. 

APP. No. XXIX. (P. 56, 57). Original of two passages concerning Flann ofMonas- 
<er6otc€ C/rowiTighemach, anc? /row O'C/crysLeabhar Gabhala), . 616 

APP. No. XXX. (P. 68). Original of entries in the Chronicum Scotormn, and in the 
Annals of Ulster, of the death q/*TiGHBBMACH (a J). 1088), . , 517 

APP. No. XXXI. (P. 68 to 60). Of the Foundation oj Clonmacnoise, . 617 

APP. No. XXXII. (P, 63, and 67). Of the Fragment of an ancient vellum copy of the 
Annals of Tioheknach, bound up with the Annals of Ulster, in the Library of 
Trin. Coll Dublin, ...... 617 

Letter from Rev. J. H. Todd, P.R.IA.., to Mr. Cuny, upon this Fragment, 517. 
Original of the entire passage containing the sentence *' Omnia Monumenta Sco- 
torum", etc., from the copy of the Annals of Tighernach in T.C.D. (H. 1. 18.), 
519. — Original of version of same in the R. I. Academy MS. (33. 6.) 619 note. — 
Original of version of same passage as given by Dr. O'Conor, 519 note. — Original 
of Ballymote, 520. — Of the second tract of Synchronisms in same Book, attributed 
to Fiann, by the Venerable Charles O'Conor of Ballynagar (with translation of 
parallel passage in an ancient tract of Synchronism in the Book), 520-21. — Of Ti- 
ghernach^ s authority for the sentence in question, 521. — Eochaidh O'Flinn, 621- . 
22.— Of the Synchronisms in the Book of L€cain, 622.— Flann's Poems, 622-23.— 
Quatrain identifying the author of the Poems (original and translation), 523. 
APP. No. XXXIII. (P. 64). Original of stanza of Maehnura, quoted by Tigher- 
nach, ....... 624 

APP. No. XXXIV. (P. 64). Original of another ancient stanza quoted by Tigher- 
nach, and Extract from Dr, 0' Conor's account of the T,CM. copyofTiasER- 
NACH, ....... 524 

APP. No. XXXV. (P. 68). Of King Eochaidh Buadhach, . . 526 

APP. No. XXXVI. (P. 68). Original of an Entry in Tighernach, as to the Kings of 
Leinster, ....... 626 

APP. No. XXXVIL (P. 70). Original of commencement of Poem (ascribed to Gilla 

an Chomdedh Ua Cormaic) in the Book of Leinster, . . 526 

APP. No. XXXVIII. (P. 70). Original (with Translation) of the account of the 

Foundation of the Palace qfEvjjJH Macha, or Emania (from the Book of Leinster), 526 
APP. No. XXXIX. (P. 76). Original of Entry in the Annals op Tiohsiwach (at 
A.D. 1405), concerning the Continuator of these Annals, . . 629 


APP. No. XL. (P. 76). Oi-iffinai of Ugtndary account o/MkMLSvrBAJM 0*CetrUudlt, 
o/Inis Faithlenn, in Loch Lein {Innis/allen^ Lower Lake of ^lamty\fiom the 
LiBBB Flatus Fxrousiorum, . . «.* • 529 

APP. No. XLI. (P. 76). Contents of the Libeb Fulvds Ferovsiorum (a.d. 1437), 631 
APP. No. XLII. (P. 84). Original of entry in the Annals op Ulster, concerning the 

Death of the original compiler, hl&c'M.ikghnuBSL{A»i} 1498), . • 633 

APP. No. XLIIL (P. 85). Orig'nal of two Memoranda in T.C.D. copy of the Amnals 
OF Ulster (H. 1. 8), ...... 533 

APP. No. XLIV. (P. 90, 92). Of the commencement of the MS. called the Annals of 

Ulstbr, in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin (H. 1.8),. . 534 

APP. No. XLV. (P. 94). Original of Memorandum inserted in the T.C.D. copy of 
the Annals of Loch Ce (a.d. 1061), .... 534 

APP. No. XLVI. (P. 94;. ^Original of second Memorandum in same (a d. 1515), 584 
APP. No. XLVIL (P. 94). Original of third Memorandum in same (ad. 1581), 534 
APP. No. XL VIII. (P. 94). Original of fourth Memorandum in same (a D. 1 462), 534 
APP. No. XLIX. (P. 95). Original of entry (at A.D. 1581) in Fragment of Continua- 
tion of the Ankals of Loch Ce, in the Brit, Museum ; and of Note appended thereto, 
byBrianMacDermotyChiefofhlsLghJjXiiTgj . -. . 534 

APP. No. L. (P. 96). Original of entry of Death of Brian Mac Dermot (a.d. 1592), 
in the Annals of the Four Masters, .... 535 

APP. No. LL (P. 102). Original of entry in Annals of Loch Ce, at a.d. 1087, 535 
APP. No. LII. (P. 101). Original of entry in same, at A.D. 1087, . . 535 

APP. No. LIIL (P. 101). Original of account of the Battle of Magh Slecht (A.D. 
1256), from the Anngls of Loch C^, .... 536 

APP. No. LIV. (P. 102). Original (and translation) of passage in the Tripartite 
Life of Saint Patrick concerning the Idol called Cenn Cruaich, or Crom Cruach, 
and the Plain of Magh Slecht, . . . . . 538 

APP. No. LV. (P. 102). Original of Memorandum at the end of the T.C.D. copy of 
the Annals of Connacht (H. 1. 2.), . . . . , 539 

APP. No. LVI. (P. 109), Original of Memorandum in the Brit. Museum copy of the 

50- ca//€</ Annals OF Boyle, (under year 1594), . . . 539 

APP. No. LVII. (P. 111). Original of Second Memorandum in same, . 536 

APP. No. LVIII. (P. 1 11). Original of third Memorandum in same, . 540 

APP. Na LIX. (P. 112). Original of passage in O^DonneVs Life of Saint Colum 

Oi//d'(2. 52.R.LA.), ...... 540 

APP. No. LX. (P. 115). Original of entry in the Annals of Connacht, at a.d. 1464; 
and Original of abstract of same in the handwriting of the Venerable Charles 
O* Conor of Ballynagar, ...... 540-1 

APP. No. LXI. (P. 1 1 5). Original of Corresponding entry in the Annals of Loch Ce 
(H. 1. 19., T.C.D.), ...... 641 

APP. No. LXII. (P. 121). Original of Title of Mac Firhis' Book of Pedigrees and 
Genealogies, . . . . , . .641 

^P. No LXIII. (P. 126). Original of description f the Inauguration of the O'Dowda, 
in the Book ofLecain, ...... 642 

APP. No. LXIV. (P. 127). Original of Title, and commencement of Preface, of the 
Cbronicum Scotoruh, ..... 642 

APP. Na LXV. (P. 127). Original of a Note, by Mac Firbis, in the Chroniccm 
SCOTOBUM, ....... 143 


APP. No. LXVI. (P. 128). Original of Memorandum in the Chronicum Scotorum 

(a.d. 722), explaining a deficiency there^ . . : .643 

APP. No. LXVII. (P. 146). Original of Dedication of the Annals of the Four 

Masters, . . . . . . . 543 

APP. No LXVm. (P. 147). Original of Testimonium of the Annals of the Fofr 

Masters, • . . . . . • 548 

APP. No. LXIX. (P. 158). Of the succession of the Chiefs of the QGara Family, 

from A D. 982 to 1537 ; from the Annals of the Four Masters, . , . 616 

APP. No. LXX. (P. 163). Original of O'Clery's Pr^ace to the Reim Riooraidhe, 

(succession of the Kings), from the R I A. MS. (40, 4), . . 548 

APP. No. LXXL (P. 164). Original of O'Clery's Dedication to the same, . 650 

APP. No. LXXII. (P. 165). Ori^nal of O'Clery's Address to the Reader, prefixed 

to the same (from the T.C.D. MS. ; H. 4. 6), . . .551 

APP. No. LXXIII. (P. 168). Original of O'Clery's Dedication to the Leabhar 

Gabhala (Book of Invasions), from the T.C.D. MS. (H. 1. 12), . . 662 

APP. No. LXXIV. (P. 169). Original of O'Clery's Address to the Reader, prefixed 

to the same (from a copy in the Library of the R.I.A., made in 1685), . 654 

APP. No. LXXV. (P. 175). Original of Title and Dedication of O'Clery's Glos- 

BART, ....... 657 

APP. No. LXXVI. (P. 1 76). Original of Address to the Reader, prefixed to the same, 558 
APP. No. LXX VII. (P. 178). [Erroneous reference as to List of Contractions, etc.] 560 
APP. No. LXXVIII. (P. 178). Original (and Translation) of the Last Will of 

Cuchoiohcriche 0*Clery (called Cucogry, or Peregrine O^Clery), . 660 

APP. No. LXXIX. (P. 179). Original (and Translation) ofrTwo Poems by Cu- 

coiGHCRiCHE O'Clert, ..... 662 

APP. No. LXXX. (P. 182). Original of Two Memoranda in the Leabhar na 

H-UiDHRE (concerning the history of that celebrated MS.), . . 670 

Note concerning Conchobhar, the son of Aedh O'Donnell (oh. a.d. 1367), 670, note. 
APP. No. LXXXI. (P. 183). Original of entry in the Annals of the Four 

Masters (at a.d. 1470), . . . . . 670 

APP. No. LXXXII. (P. 184.) Original of entry in same Annals (at a.d. 1 106), 571 
APP. No. LXX XIII. (P. 184). Original of a Memorandum in the Leabhar na 

H-UlJ>HRE, ....... 571 

APP. No. LXXXIV. (P. 186) Original of a Memorandum in the Book of Leinster, 571 
APP. No. LXXXV. (P. 187). Original of a second Memorandum in the same, 671 

APP. No. LXXXVI. (P. 1 95). [Apologj- for not giving a complete List of the MSS. 

in the Libraries of the R.I A and of Trin. Coll. Dublin], . 671 

APP. No. LXXXVn. (P. 216). Original of Title and Introduction to Mac Firbis' 
Book of Genealogies, ..... 672 

Original (and Translation) of ancient Poem on the celebrated Builders of ancient 
times, 577. Original (and Translation) of ancient Poem on the Characteristics 
of the various Races in Erinn, 580. Original (with Translation) of ancient Poem 
on the Characteristics of various Nations, 580. 
APP. No. LXXXVHI. (P. 248). Original (and Translation) of passage, concerning 

the Historic Talks, if^ the Book of Leinster, . 683 

APP. No. LXXXIX. (P. 243). Original (and Translation, with Notes), of the List 
of the Historic Tales, in the Book of Leinster, . 684 



APP. No. XC. (P. ^76). Of the Place of the Death- Wound of ConehobUr Mac 
Neasa, ....... 593 

Original (and TranaUtion) of Note, b^ Michael O^Clery oo thia Babj«ei, 59a 

APP. No. XCI. (P. 293). Original oj Stanza of a Poem by Saint Mocholin6g, cutout 
the Ua Corra ; from the Book or Febmot, . . . 593 

APP. No. XCIL (P. 302, 303). Original of the first lines of Six PoEX S attributed to 
Finn Mac Cumhaill^ ..... 594 

APP. No. XCIII. (P. 306, 307). Original ofthejirst line qf Poem attributed to Femus 
FiNNBHiEOXL; and of first line of Poem attributed to Cakilte Mac Bonain ( from 
the Dinnbeanchus), ...... 594 

APP. No. XCIV. (P. 308, 311). Original of passage (poem) from the Agallamh na 
Sean6rach, concerning Gael Ua Neamnainn and the Lady Credhi (^from the Book 
OF Lismore), . . . . . . 594 

Original (and Translation) of Prose passage from the same, 597. 

APP. No. XCV. (P. 315). Of the ancient Monuments called Cromlecli, . 598 

APP. No. XCVL (P. 325). Original of passage w the " Tripartite Life"* oJ Sait.t 
Patrick, concerning the Domhnach Airgio, • . • 598 

APP. No. XCVII. (P. 329, 330). Original of first stanza of the Prayer of Saint 
Colum CilU (from the Yellow Book of Lecain) ; and Original (and Translation) 
qf passage concerning the Cathachfrom O^DonnelPs Life of Saint Colum Cille. 699 

APP. No. XC VIII. (P. 331.) Original of Inscription on the Shrine of the Caihach, 599 

APP. No. XCIX. (P. 334). Original qf entry in the Annals of Tiooebnach (a.d. 
1090), as to the Cdilefabh, ..... 599 

APP. No. C. (P. 335). Original (and Translation) of reference to a Cdii.efadh 
of Saint Emhin, in a MS. of a.d. 1463, in the B.I.A. (43. 6.), . . 599 

APP. No. CL (P. 836). Otiginal (and Translation) of passage concerning the Mios- 
ACH, from the Yellow Book o/'Lecain, .... 6(K) 

APP. No. CII. (P. 838). Of the Relic called the Bachaix Isu, or '' Staff of Jesus;' 601 
Original (and Translation) of the account of the ancient tradition respecting this 
relic in the " Tripartite Life" of St. Patrick, GOL—Bemarks of the Bev. Dr. Todd, 
P.B.I.A., upon the accounts of this Belie, 602. — Original (and Translation) of 
passage concerning it in the Annals oiLoch C€y 604. — Original (and Translation) 
of passage concerning it in the Annals of the Four Masters, 605. 

APP. No. cm. (P. 343). Original (and Translation) of Stanza in Poem by Saint 
Hacc (alluding to the desertion of Tara), .... 606 

APP. No. CIV. (P. 844.). Original (and Translation) of passage in the " Taipae- 
TITE Life" of Saint Patrick (concerning the chariot of Saint Patrick) y . 606 

Original (and Translation) of passage concerning the same in the Book of 
Armagh, 607. 

APP. No. CV. (P. 346). Oviginal of entry at the end of the " Tripartite Life", 608 

APP. No. C VI. (P. 347). Original (and Translation) of passage alluding to Saint 
Ultan in the " Tripartite Life**, .... 608 

Original of passage from Tierchan's Annotations, in the Book of Armagh, 608. 

APP. No. CVIL (P. 350). Original of concluding words of Firm Ikirt of the Tri- 
partite Life, ...... 609 

APP. No. CVUI. (P. 350). Original (and Translation) of observations, by the 
original writer y on the opening passage of Vie Third Part ^t/* eAe <* Tripartite 
Life" of St. Patrick^ ...... 609 


APP. No. CIX. (P. 860). Original of Two Lines of the spurious Saltaib ha Bann ; 

and of the First Line of same Poem (Brit. MuB. ; M8. Eg. 186.), . 609 

APP. No. ex. (P. 362). Original of the Two First Lines of the Martyrology of 

Mablmuiri Ua Gormain (MS. vol xm., Bv^rg, Lib., Brussels), . 609 

APP. No. CXI. (P. 363> The Pedigree o/ Aengos Cbilb Db (from the Leabhar 

M6r Duna Doighre, ca//e(/ /Ae Leabhar Breac), . . . 610 

APP. No. CXII. (P. 364). Original of the " Canoh** of Fothadh, . 610 

APP. No. CXIII. (P. 365). Original of the Invocation from the Fblirb Abngitsa, 610 
APP. No. CXIV. (P. 367). Original of First Stanza (Jan. 1) of the Fbubb 

Aenousa, ....... 611 

APP. No. CXV. (P. 868). Original of Stanza of the Felibb Abnousa at 

March 17, . . . . . . . 611 

APP. No. CXVI. (P. 368). Original of Stanza of same at April 18 (^Festival of 

Bishop Taflsach), . . . . . .611 

APP. No. CXVII. (P. 378). Original (and Translation) of the *" Canon of Saint 

Pa/rt'c^", fh>m tbe Book OF Armagh, . . . . 612 

Translation of this Canon by Archbishop Ussher, 612. 
APP. No. CXVIII. (P. 374). Original of last sentence of the" Bulb of Saint 

CoInmCille*', ...... 613 

APP. No. CXIX (P. 376). Original of Extract from an Ancient Treatise by wag 

of Exposition of the Mass . . . . .618 

APP. No. CXX. (P. 378, 879). Original of commencements of Invocations in the 

Prayer of Saint Aireran ** the T^wc", .... 614 

APP. No. CXXI. (P. 379). Original of explanation of the word Oirchis, or Air- 

chia, in an ancient Glossary (H. 8, 18, T.C.D.), referring to the Prayer of Saint 

AiRERAN " <Ae TFtsc", ...... 615 

APP. No. CXXII. (P. 379, 880> Original of commencements of the First and 

Second Parts ofthe Prayer of CojjQvV A DuiKVCUi>A, . . 615 

APP. No. CXXm. (P. 880). Original of commencement of an Ancibnt Litant 

OF THE Blessed Virgin, ..... 615 

APP. No. CXXIV. (P. 881). Original (and Translation) of commencement of the 

Litant of Aenoub Ceilb De, . . . . .615 

Original (and Translation) of Poem ascribed to St. Brigid, 616. 
APP. No. CXXV. (P. 883). Original of passage in the Agallamb an ha 

Shuagh, ....... 616 

APP. No. CXXVI. (P. 886). Original of two passages in the Baile Chuinn, 617 
APP. No. CXXVII. (P. 386, 387). Original of passage in the " Tripaktitb 

Life" of Saint Patrick, quoted from the Baile Chitin (as to the wore? Tailcenn), 617 

Of the word Tailcenn, Tailginn, or Tailgenn, 617. — Original (and Gloss) of Expla- 
nation of it firom the SenchusMSr (MS. H. 8, 17, T.C.D.), 617.— Original (and 

Translation) of passage in the ancient Tale of the Bruighean Da Derga, 618. 
APP. No. CXXVIII. (P. 387). Original (and translation) of ancient account of the 

Baile an Scail (" Ecstacy of the Champion*") ; from MS. Harl. 5280, Brit. Mus., 618 
APP. No. CXXIX. (P. 889, 390). Original of stanza referring to th$ same, in Poem 

by Flann ; and original of first line of same Pvem, . . , 622 

APP. No. CXXX. (P. 391). Original qf first line of ** Prophetic" Poem ascribed to 

Art *^ the Lonely^, son of Conv, ..... 622 


AFP. No. CXXXI. (P. 392). Original (and Translation) of heading and commtnee- 
ment qfa*^ Pbophecy** atciibed to Finn Mac Cumhail], • . 622 

Note on the *' Flag-8t<me, or '* Rock of Patrick**, 623-1. 

APP. No. CXXXir. (P. 395). Original of stanzas in one of the " Ossianic Poems*', 
containing a " Pbophbct" ascribed to Finn Mac Camhaill, . . 624 

APP. No. CXXXIII. (P. 397) Original of stanza, containing the ** Pbophscy** attri- 
buted to the Druid of King Laeghair€ {from the " Tripartite Life""), , 622 

APP. No. CXXXIV. (P. 399> Original ofjirst line of^* Prophetic Poem'' attributed 
toB^gMacD€, ...... 622 

APP. No. CXXXV. (P. 399). Original of first senUnce of the ** Fbophsct" attri- 
buted to Beg Mac Ue, ...... 622 

APP. No. CXXXVI (P. 400). Original of stanza of a " Prophecy", attributed to 
Saint Colnm CUle, quoted in the Wars of the Danes (Book of Leinster) ; and of 
first verse oj same Poem (from MS. H. 1. 10., T.C.D.), . . 625 

APP. No. CXXXVIL (P. 401). Original of Stanza o/Maolin 6g Mac Bruwdeadha 
(^Mac Brody\ referring to the same "Prophecy**; (^quoted in the Annals of the 
Four Masters, at A.D. 1599), ..... 626 

APP. No. CXXXVIII. (P. 406). Original of first stanza of a second '' ProphetuT 
Pofiif , attributed to Saint Colmn CiUe, .... 626 

APP. No. CXXXIX. (P. 407). Original of first line of a third (like), . 626 

APP. No. CXL. (P. 409, 410). Original ofjirst stanzas of three other *' Prophetic* 
Poems, and ofthejirst line of another, attributed to the same Saint, . 626-7 

APP. No. CXLI. (P. 412, 413, 414, 416). Original of three stanzas of a Poetical 
" Prophecy", ascribed to Saint Berchan ,- ofthejirst stanza of same Poem; of the 
lOth stanza ; of the \2th stanza; and of the 97th stanza of the same, . 627 8 

APP. No. CXLIL (P. 417). Original ofjirst line of a second " Prophetic'* Poem 
attributed to Saint Betch&n, ..... 628 

APP. No. CXLin. (P. 417). Original of verse quoted by Ferfessa O'Ckrigh from 
from a so-called " Prophecy** of Saint Berchan (from the Annals of the Four 
Masters, about a.d, 1598), ..... 628 

APP. No. CXLIV. (P. 41 7). Original ofjirst stanza of a " Prophetic** Poem, attri- 
buted to SaitU Berchan (but believed to have been written by Tadhg O'Neachtain, 
about A D. 1716), ...... 628 

APP. No CXLV. (P. 420). Original of'commencement of the Baile Mholino {from 

. the Yellow Book ofLecain), ..... 629 

APP. No. CXLVI. (P. 422). Original of first stanza of the so-called *' Prophecy'* of 
Sedna, ....... 629 

APP. No. CXLVIL (P. 423). Original of Jirst line o/Poem (by DonnellMac Brody, 
circa 1570), referring to the same " Prophecy**, . . . 629 

APP. No. CXLVIII. (P. 423). Original ofjirst words of the so-called " Prophecy**, 
attributed to Maeltamhlachta, ..... 629 

APP. No. CXLIX. (P. 423). Original of passage from the Life of Saimt Adamnan 
(from the MS. vol XI., 4190-4200, Burg. Lib, Brussels), . . 629 

APP. No. CL. (P. 424). Original of the " Vision** of Saint Adaknan from the 
Leabhar M6r Duna Doighre, called the Leabhar Breac), . 630 

APP. No. CLI. (P. 426). Of the Pestilences called the Buidhe Chonnaill, and the 
Ceom Chonnaill, ...... 630 

Original (and TranaUtion) of passage m ancient Life of Saint Mac Creich^, 631-2. 



—Original (and Translation) of two stanzas from a cnriotis Poem in the same Life, 
632.— Note on the word Crom, 632. 

APP. No. CLII. (P. 426). Original of passage in the Leabhar M6r Diina Doighre 
{called the Leabhar Breac), concerning the Scuap a Fanatt, . . 632 

APP. No. CLIIL (P. 429). Original oj Note on the Scuap a FanaIT, in the 
Fjhjbe Aengusa ( from the same book), .... 634 

APP.. No. CLIV. (P. 431, 432). Original of two passages from Giraldus Cam- 
brensis (" Hibemia Expugnata^) concerning " FrofOBCIEB^ Jorged for the use of 
John De Courcy and others of the invaders^ . . . 635 

APP. No. CLV. (P. 434). Original of stanza of a pretended "Prophecy" quoted 
by Sir George Carew in 1602 {from the Carew MSS., Lambeth Lib», London), 637 

APP. No. CLVI. (P. 453). Of the accounts of the celebrated King of Ulster, Con- 
CHOBHAB Mac Nessa ...... 637 

Original of entry of the Death of Conchobhar Mac Nessa in the Annals op 
Tiohebnach (a.d. 33), 638. — Original (and Translation) of the Acconnt of the 
Death of Conchobhar Mac Nessa from the Historic Tale of the "Aided Conco- 
baib" (" Tragic Fate of Conchobhar*"), preserved in the Book of Leinstsr, 638. 
— Original (and Translation) of Keating's acoount of it, 642.--Origlnal (and 
Translation of distich, with Gloss, from Fo£h by Cinaeih O^Hartagdm (ob. 
973), 643. 

APP. No. CLVII. (Note to Preface, P. x.) Statement relative to the Irish MSS. of 
the College of St. Isidore, at Rome, drawn up for the information of their Lordships 
the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland, and laid before them by the Senate of the 
Catholic University of Ireland, in) S59. .... 64:4 

EXPLANATIONS OF FAC-St\nLES. .... 649—663 

FAC-SIMILES OF THE Ancient MSS. . . . [opP-P« 664 

(A.) MS. in lie " Domhnach Airgi^\ [R-LA.]. (temp. St Patrick ; circa A.D. 4S0.) 

(B.) MS. In the " Calhach". (6ih Century. MS. attributed to St. Colum CU16.) 

(C.) " Book of Kells", [T.C.D.]. (6tti Century. MS. attributed to St Colum dUL) 

(D.) " Book of Durrow", [T.C.D. J. (6th Century. MS. attributed to St Colum Cilli.) 

(E.) Memorandum In "Book of Durrow", [T.C.D.]. (6th Century.— att to St C. C.) 

(F.) Memorandum in " Book of Durrow", [T.CD.]. (6th Century.— att to St C. C.) 

(G.) " Book of Dimma", [T.CD.]. (circa a.d. 620.) 

(H.) "Book of Dimma*\ [T.CD.]. (circa A.i>. 620.) 

(L) " Book of IHmma'\ [T.C.D.]. (circa a.d. 620.) 

(J.) Memorandum in " Book of Dimma'\ [LCD.], (circa a.d. 620.) 

(K.) " Book of Dimmar, [T.CD.]. (circa a.d. 620.) 

(L.) " Book of JHmma", [T.C.D.]. (circa a.d. 620.) 

(M.) Eyangellstarium of St Moling, [T.C.D.]. (circa A.D. 690.) 

(N.) Evangeliatarium of St Moling, [T.CD.]. (circa a.d. 690.) 

(0.) " Book of Armagh", [T.CD.]. (a.d. 724.) 

(P.) " Book of Armagh", [T.CD.]. (a.d. 724.) 

(Q.) " Liber Hymnorum", [E. 4. 2. ; T.CD.]. (circa a.d. 900.) 

(R) Entry in "Book of Armagh", [T.CD.]. (made temp. Brian Boroimh6, a.d. 1004.) 

(S.) " Uahhar na h-Uidhri\ [R.L A.], (circa a.d. 1100.) 

(T.) " Book of Lelnater", [H. 2. 18. ; T.CD.]. (circa a.d. 1180.) 

(U.) " Book of Lelnster", [H. 2. 18. ; T.CD.]. (circa a.d. 1130.) 

(V.) MS. in Trin. CoU. DnbL, [H. 2. 1ft.]. (a.d. 1800.) 

(W.) Entry in ''Leabhar na h-Uidhre\ [S.LA.], Qay Sigraidh O'Cuimin, a.d. 1340.) 

(X.) " Book of Ballymote", [R,LA.]. (A.D. 1891.) 

(Y.) *• Book of Ballymote". [R.I. A.], (a.d. 1391.) 

(Z ) " Book of BaIlymot«", [R LA.], (a.d. 1891.) 



(AA.) '* Yellow Book of Lecaiii'\ [H. S. K. ; T.C.D.]. (drea A.D. lS9a) 

(BB.) '* YeUow Book of Leeam'\ [H. 9. 16 ; T.C.D ], (circa a.i>. 1890.) 

(CC.) " Uabhar M&r Mma IMghrf\ (caUed " Uabhar Breae), [B.!. A.], (circa a.d 1400.) 

(DD.) " UoMmt M&r Diima JMghri", [R.I. A.], (circa A.D. 1400.) 

(EE.) " Leabhar M6r Ihima Doighrf', [R-LA. j. (circa a.d. 1400.) 

(FF.) M& In Roj. Ir. Acad. [H. A & & ST.] (circa a.d. 1400.) 

(GG.) MS. in Rof . Ir. Aead. (Astronom : Tract ; circa a.d. 1400.) 

(HH.) MS. in Trin. CoU. DubL [IL 2. 7.] (circa 4.0. 1400.) 

(IL) " Book of Leeain", [R.L A.]. Ca.d. 141«.) 

(JJ.) " Book of Lecai9C\ [R.L A.]. (a.d. 1416.) 

(KK.) " Book of LeeainT, [R.LA.]. <a.d. 1416.) 

(LU) " Liber Flayns Fergnaiomm'*. (jld. 14d4.) 

(MM.) " Book of Acaar\ [E. 8. 5. ; T.GJ).]. (drca jld. 1450.) 

(NN.) "Book of Fcnnoy-. (a.d. 1468.) 

(00.) M& in Roy. Ir. Acad. [4& 6.] (a.d. 1467.) 

(PP.) Eatrj In Lsabharnah-l7idhri,lR.Lk.i. (a.d. 1470) 

(QQ.) MS. in Trin. ColL DubL [H. 1. 8. J. (16th Centnry.) 

(RR.) MS. in Trin. CoU. DabL fH. 1. &]. a^th (^tnry.) 

(SS.) '' Book of Liamore". (15th Centnry.) 

CTT.) Memorandum in Leabhar M6r Ihma IMghrl, [R.LA.J. (circa a d. 1500.) 

(UU ) MS. in Trin. ColL DubL [H. 8. la]. (A.D. 1509.) 

(W.) MS. in Trin. ColL DubL [H- L a]. (16th Century.) 

(WW.) MS. in Trin. GoIL DubL [H. 8. 17.]. (15th A 16th Cent.) 

(XX.) MS. in Trin. CoU. DubL [H. 1. 19. J. (▲.!>. 1580.) 

(YY.) Handwriting of Michael O'Clery, [VeUnm MS. ; R.IJLJ. 

(ZZ.) Signature of Michael O'Cnery, [Vellum MS.; R.I.A.J. 

(AAA.) Handwriting of Cucogry O'Clery, [Vellum MS. ; RI. A.J. 

(BBB.) MS. in Trin. ColL DubL [H. 1. la ; T.C.D.]. (a.d. 1650.) 

(CCC.) Handwriting of Duald Mac Firbis, [H. 1. 18. ; T. C.D.J. (a.d. 1650.) 

(DDD.) Handwriting of Michael and Cucogry OTlery, [Paper MS. ; R.LA.J. 

(EEE.) Handwriting of Conairi O'Clery, [Paper MS. ; R.LA.]. 

(FFF.) Handwriting of John O'Donoyan, LL.D., M.R.IJi. (1861.) 

(GGG.) Handwriting (small) of Eugene O'Curry, M.R.I.A. (184a) 

(HHH ) Handwriting Garge) of Eugene O'Curry, M.R.I. A. (184a) 

GENERAL INDEX ...... 605—72 


Page S, line 82; for *' Gaedblic'', read " Qaedhilic" (aa well wherever it may 

occur as here). 

„ 3, note 5, line 8 ; for <' Gaelic", read " Gaer. 

„ 4, line 6 ; for ** recent", read " more recent". 

„ 86, note, line 2 ; for '* land immortality**, read " land of immortality**. 

„ 38, line 19 ; for *' His is ReochaitT, read *" He is Beochaidh'\ 

„ 70, line 1 ; for " Gilla'an-Chomdechr, read " Gilla-an-Chomdedh'*. 

„ 70, line 84 ; for " Emhain MQcha\ read " Emhain Mhacha\ 

„ 76, line 23 ; for " abont 1002", read " in 1004". 

„ 94, last line but two ; for " Daniel", read " David". 

„ 101, line 18 ; for " ConnchaiTy read " ConackaiP*. 

„ 111, line 84; for '* Rosoonmion'', read "Galway". 

„ 118, line 15 ; for " submersifl", read '^ submersus**. 

„ 120, last line; for " Tir-FhiaehradhT, read " Txr-FhiachracK'. 

„ 146, line 27 ; for " GaedhiTy read " GaedhelT. 

„ 147, line 4 ; for « TeadghT, read " Tadhg^, 

„ 1 48, line 9 ; for ^^ was a guardian", read *' was guardian". 

„ 168, line 18 ; for " they year 1200", read " the year 1200". 

„ 169, Ime 4 ; for " Brien Koe", read " Brian Ruadh'\ 

„ 1 71 , line 1 ; for " Fiontain**, read " Ftontan". 

„ „ line 30; for Ua-ChonghaiT, read Ua Ckonqhbhair, 

„ 176, Une 30 ; for '^Neide the profound in just laws'*, read " Ntidh^ the 

profound, and Ferchertne". 

„ 189, line 27 ; for " Luaidef*, read " Luain€'*. 

„ 2 14, Une 24 ; for " Tadgh", read " Tadhg"*. 

„ 217, line 3 ; for " Benn-^hair^ read " Bennchair^. 

„ 219, line 24 ; for ''0'Canann8'\ read " 0' Canamana'\ 

„ 243, line 13 ; for " AmrathT, read " AnrothT, 

„ 260, lino 26 ; for " MeaghT, read " MagK*, 

„ 251, last line ; for " MonadhT, read " Moriath *'. 

„ 264, line 8; for '^ Fiacha Finnolaidh", read '^ Feradhach, the sou uf 

Fiacha Finnokudh\ 

„ „ line 9 ; for " FtaehaT, read " FeradhadC*. 

„ 277, line 39 ; for " Grayhounds", read " Greyhound**. 

„ 301, line 86 ; for FinnbheoUr, read " Finnbheoil'*. 

„ 302, Une 36 ; for *' ancient lost tract*', read *' ancient tract**. 

„ 303, Une 12 ; for " cheanH^j read " cheann**. 

„ „ line 24 ; for " -Drean**, read " Z)ean'*. 

„ 304, Une 6 ; for " Snaeie\ read " Suaelt\ 

„ 319, Une 1 ; for " DuU Dearmaire% read " Dull Dearmaif*. 

„ „ Une 8; for "Zear*', read "Z»y*. 

„ 836, line 24 ; for " Torloch", read " Conor" [see " Cambrensis Eversus", 

published by the Celtic Society ; vol u., p. 397]. 

„ 340, Une 28 ; for " Cinn\ read " CennT. 

„ 363, last Une but four ; for " three quatrains**, read " four quatrains". 

,, 369, last Une but four; " Jfo^ten'* and " fV/ronw", though so written in 

the original text, must be read " Moses** and " Pharaoh". " John", 

too, in this passage, should, of course, be '* Paul**. 


Page 404, line 83 ; for '* Maranach^, read " Afearanach*". 

„ 429, line 83 ; for '* in 664", read '^ in the year 664**. 

„ 431, line 16 ; for ** wordly", read " worldly^. 

„ 442, line 12 ; for " Protestanr, read " local". 

„ 480, note 21 ; for " MdeT, read ** ^fdir, 

„ 488, line 19 ; for " f^, riA iiAi|\e<i", read " f e|\ tiA iiAi|\e6'\ 

„ 496, line 21 ; for " pjnti", read " fuim". 
„ „ line 32 ; for " f [ocf tiAicli]", read " [rtoc|\UAic)i". 

„ 498, line 4 ; for " tnhA^oJ", read " mliAcoc". 

„ 503, Une 35 ; for " hand'', read " band". 

„ 508, last line bnt one ; for " Neidhe'', read " NeidhC". 

„ 509, note 85 ; for " when^ read " where*'. 

„ 518, line 20 ; for " octif ", read " ocuf ". 
„ „ line 24; for "^xepiAfe", read "nepiApe". 

„ 521, line 29 ; for " two hundred", read '* one hundred". 

„ 622, line 4 ; for " 200", read " lOO**. 

„ 523, line 1 ; for " ca|%5]\ibATn", read " copT-r|tibAw". 

„ 526, line 24 ; for " bAnnf aiVi", read " hA«tif a^'. 

„ 535, line 29 ; for " pW\ read " fiyx". 

„ 542, line 17; for " -ooLc a-oo", read " ■ooIca ■06". 

„ 551, line 17 ; for " teAjeeoi]\A", read " UAgt6]AA". 

„ 552, line 10 ; for " x^^i", read " f At\". 
„ „ line 28 ; for " ■ooitiAti", read " ■ootViAin". 

„ 653, line 2 ; for " tiom", read " iiom". 

„ 556, line 2 ; for " j\eAn6tJf a", read ** f eAn<^u]•A''. 

„ 558, line 14; for " 6uAiTnAt]\", read " cuAl^niAtp**. 
„ „ Kne 1 7 ; for " Uetb", read '* Ueti b". 
„ „ line 34; for "iVi6ixi'', read "iVi^i-o". 

„ 560, laat line ; for " difireef ", read " 6ip Jr:e|\". 

„ 562, line 34 ; for " from M.S.S." read " from a MS." 

„ 563, last line but 7 ; for " Connacht", read " Ci-uachaur. 

„ 570, line 9 ; for " Aubniu'bitijA'o", read " AcTiinn-oiu^AX)**. 

„ 574, line 18 ; for " |:in6ipci\e", read ** pn6ipciie". 

„ 576, last line bnt 6 ; for " ua", read " ha''. 

„ 581, line 6 ; for " Britons", read " true Britons". 

„ 581, line 21 ; for " mbbAA-bAti", read " iYibtiA'6Ati". 
„ „ llna37; for "teAtiAiiVinA", read "toAnAthriA*'. 

„ 582, line 25 ; for " cmeA*", read " ciTitieA'6". 

„ 690, last line of last note; for"H. 8. 17. TC.D.^ read "H. 3. 18. 

T.C.D ". 

„ 597, line 21 ; for " kings", read " king". 

„ 598, hist line but 2 ; for " tAn", read « jAti". 

„ 599, line 21 ; (no comma Mter the word cAbAiT\c). 

„ 600, Ime 29; for " UlaM", read " Uladh'\ 

„ 601, line 15 ; for " oinf'i ^^^^ " ocuf*'. 

„ 602, line 9 ; (quotation should end with inverted commas). 

„ 605, line 29 ; for " cccinn", read " ccitin". 

„ 616, line 17 ; for " caves", read " cans". 

„ 629, line 14 ; for " attributed Scdha", read " attriimted to SeDtiA". 

„ 630, line 8 ; after " Ultonians**, read " were". 

[In conseqnenee of a mistake In the List farnUhed by the Secretary of the Unlrcrsity to 
the Printer, the Dates given at the head of Lectures V. to XII. (pp. 93, 120, 140, 162, 181, 203, 
229, 251), are incorrect; (see Note at p. 320.) Lectures V., VI., VII., Vin., IX., and X-, were 
in fact delivered in the Spring (March) of 1866. Lectures XL, XIL, XIIL, and XIV., and 
XVII. to XXI., were all delivered in the months of Jane and July, 1856. Lectures XV. and 
XVI. (in the order now printed), were in fact delivered in March, 1855, after Lect. IV., and 
are now restored to their proper order. Lect. V. (p. 98), as delivered (In March, 1856) opened 
with an explanation, now, of course, omitted, so as to take up the subject firom the close of 
the previous Lect the year before.} 


[DelircreO 13th Knxvh, I8A5.J 

Introduction. Of Learning before S. Patrick's time. Of the loet Books, 
and what is known of them. I. The CuUmenn. 11. The Saltair of Tara. III. 
The Book of the Uachongbhail. IV. The Cin Droma Snechta, V. The Sean- 
chag Mot. VI. The Book of Saint Mochta. VII. The Book of Cuana. 
VIIL The Book of Dubh-da-leithe. IX. The Saltair of Cashel. Of the 
existing collections of ancient Manuscripts. 

I BELIEVE that the tendency may be called a law of our nature, 
which induces us to look back with interest and reverence to 
the monuments and records of our progenitors ; and that the more 
remote and ancient such monuments and records are, the greater 
is the interest which we feel in them. At no period, perhaps, 
was this feeling of interest and reverence for the remains of 
antiquity more generally cherished than it is amount the civi- 
lized nations of Europe in our own days. A desire to learn 
and to imderstand the manners, the habits and customs, the 
arts, the science, the religion, nay, even the ordinary pursuits, 
of the nations of ancient times has largely seized on the minds 
of living men ; and the possession of even the few relics of 
ancient art which have come down to our own century is 
deemed of great value. Of how much higher and more special 
interest and importance, therefore, must it be to us to under- 
stand the language, and through it to become acquainted with 
the actions, tue range of thought, the character of mind, the 
habits, the tastes, and the every-day life of those to whom in our 
own country those relics belonged, and who have perhaps taken 
a prominent part in the ancient history of the nations among 
whom such vestiges of former days have been discovered! 
The various subjects connected with historical and antiquarian 
researches in general occupy at the present moment so promi- 
nent a place in the literature of modern Europe, and their value 
and importance are so generally recognized, that it is imneces- 
. sary to make any apology for undertaking here a course of lec- 
tures such as that upon which we are now about to enter : nor 
is it necessary, I am sure, to point out the special usefulness in 
our own coimtry, in particular, of any new attempt to develop 
what may be learned of her early history. 




UCT. I. 

Neglect of 



In all Other countries these departments of knowledge are 
both earnestly and industriously cidtivated ; and not only in all 
that relates to the eariy state of those classic nations which 
have filled the most distinguished place in the history of the 
worid, but also as regards nations of lesser prominence, where, 
as a matter both of natural affection and duty, tlie labours of 
the anti quariMi are directed with zeal and diligence to eluci- 
date the early condition of his own native land. 

In Ireland, however, it is deeply to be regretted that as yet 
we have not at all adequately explored the numerous valuaole 
monuments, and the great abundance of national records, which 
have been bequeathed to us by our Celtic ancestors. But if in 
our days the language, history, and traditions of our country 
and our race, are not prized by Irishmen as they ought to be, 
we know that this has not been always the case. Even a 
limited acquaintance with our manuscript records will suffice to 
show us how the national poet, the historian, and the musician', 
as well as the man of excellence in any other of the arts or 
sciences, were cherished and honoured. We find them indeed 
from a very early period placed in a position not merely of 
independence, but even of elevated rank ; and their persons 
and property declared inviolate, and protected specially by 
the law. Thus, an Ollamk,^^^ or Doctor in Filedecht,^^ when 
ordained by the king or chief, — ^for such is the expression used 
on the occasion, — was entitled to rank next in precedence to 
the monarch himself at table. He was not permitted to lodge, 
or accept refection when on his travels, at the house of any one 

(»> otUiVi, proDOunced " Ollav". 

(s)it is very difficult to find an adequate translation in the English lang:uage 
for the words fitet)e6c (pronounced nearly "fillidecht", — the ch guttural), and 
pie (which is pronounced nearly "filley"). The word File (the reader will 
observe the pronunciation), is commonly rendered by the English word "Poet": 
but it was in fact the general name applied to a Scholar in or Professor of Lite- 
rature and Philosophy; the art of composition in verse, or "Poetry'*, being in- 
cluded under the former. Perhaps the best general name to represent the File 
would be that of " Philosopher", in the Greek sense of the word ; but the term 
would be too vague as it is understood in modern English. Instead therefore of 
translating Filidecht " Philosophy", and FU^ " Philosopher", the Irish words 
are retained in the following pages ; the filidecht^— in the knowledge of which 
the degree of Ollamh was the highest, in that system of education which in 
ancient Erinn preceded the University system of after times,— included the 
study of law, of history, and of ,.j^hilosophy properly so caUed, as well as of 
languages, of music, of druidism, and of poetry in all its departments, and the 
practice of recitation in prose and verse; the word file, taken by itself, 
abstractedly, means generally a Poet,— -but in connection with the system of 
learning the term is applied to a Sai (pron. ** See"), in some one or more of 
the branches of learning included in the JUedecht; so that an Ollamh would 
be odled Filey and so also a Drumcli, etc. ; so also would a Ferleighinn^ or 
Profesaor of clasacal learning, etc [See also Appendix, No. I.] 


below the rank of a FlaiihP^ He, that was the Ollamh, was al- lect. i. 
lowed a standing income of " twenty-one cows and their grass" 
in the chieftam's territory, besides ample refections for hmiself learned men 
and for his attendants, to the nimiber of twenty-four ; including EriniL*^"' 
his subordinate tutors, his advanced pupils, and his retinue of 
servants. He was entitled to have two hounds and six horses. 
He was, besides, entitled to a singular privilege within his terri- 
tory : that of conferring a temporary sanctuary from injury or 
arrest, by carrying his wand, or having it carried around or 
over the person or place to be protected. His wife also en- 
joyed certain other valuable privileges ; and similar privileges 
were accorded to all the degrees of the legal, historical, musical 
and poetic art below him, according to their rank. 

Similar rank and emoluments, again, were awarded to the 
Seanchaidht^^^ or Historian ; so that in this very brief reference 
you will already obtain some idea of the honour and respect 
which were paid to the national literature and traditions, in the 
persons of those who were in ancient times looked on as their 
guardians from age to age. And, surely, by the Irishman of 
tne present day, it ought to be felt an imperative duty, which 
he owes to his country not less than to himself, to learn something 
at least of her history, her hterature, and her antiquities, and, aa 
far as existing means will allow, to ascertain for himself what 
her position was in past times, when she had a name and a 
civilization, a law and life of her own. 

In the present course of lectures, then, it will be my duty to 
endeavour to lay before you an outline of the Materials which 
still exist for the elucidation of our National History. For, it 
may be truly said that the history of ancient Erinn, as of 
modem Ireland, is yet unwritten ; though, as we shall see in 
the progress of this course, most ample materials still remain 
in the troedklic^^^ or Irish language from which that history may 
be constructed. 

Amongst the large quantities of MS. records wliich have 

OThe t^it (now pronounced nearly "Flah") was a Noble, or Landlord- 
Chief; a claw in the ancient Irish community in many respects analogous to the 
Noble class in Germany, or in France before the Bevolution of 1 789, though the 
rights and privileges of the ancient Irish were by no means those of the Feudal 
law of the continent, which never prevailed in any form in ancient Erinn. 

(^) Se<xTi6&i'6e (now pronounced nearly " Shanchie**) was the Historian or 
Antiquarian ; and, in his character of Reciter, also the Story Teller. 

c*)The ancient Irish called themselves SAei-bii (now pronounced nearly 
" Gail"), and their language ^Aei-det^, or Gaedhlic (pron : " Gaelic"), In modem 
English the word '^ Gaelic" is applied only to that branch of the race which forms 
the Celtic population of modern Scotland. But the word refers to the true 
name of the entire race; and in these Lectures, accordingly, it is always used 
to designate the Milesian population of ancient Erinn. 

1 B 


I LECT. I. come down to our times, will be found examples of the litc- 

rature of very different periods in our liistory. Some, as there 

in Md?nt is abimdant evidence to prove, possess a degree of antiquity 

i! s^ti^a!^^^^U remarkable, indeed, when compared with the similar 

,i trick. records of other countries of modem Europe. Others again 

■ have been compiled within still recent times. Those MSS. 

which we now possess belonging to the earliest periods are 

J themselves, we have just reason to believe, either in great part 

or in the whole, but transcripts of still more ancient works. 

At what period in Irish history written records began to be 

kept it is, perhaps, impossible to determine at present with pre- 

[ cision. However, the national traditions assign a very remote 

♦j antiquity and a high degree of cultivation to the civilization of 

our pagan ancestors. [See Appendix No. II.] 

Without granting to such traditions a greater deOTee of 
1 credibiUty than they are strictly entitled to, it must, I think, 

I be admitted that the inmiense quantity of historical, legendar}'-, 

and genealogical matter relating to the pagan age of ancient 
^ Erinn, and which we can trace to the very oldest written docu- 

Ij ments of which we yet retain any account, could only have been 

I transmitted to our times by some form of written record. 

I Passing over those earher periods, however, for the present, 

J and first directing our inquines to an era in our history of 

which we possess copious records (though one already far re- 
moved from modem times), it may be found most convenient 
that I should ask your attention at the opening of this course 
of Lectures to the probable state of learning in Erinn about the 
period of the introduction of Christianity by Saint Patrick. 
^ There is abundant evidence in the MSS. relating to this 
period (the authority and credibility of which will be fully 
proved to you), to show that Saint Patrick found on his coming 
to Erinn a regularly defined system of law and policy, and a 
fixed classification of the people according to various grades 
and ranks, under the sway of a single monarch, presiding over 
certain subordinate provincial kings. 

We find mention likewise of books in the possession of the 
Druids before the arrival of Saint Patrick ; and it is repeatedly 
stated (in the Tripartite Life of the saint) that he placed 
primers or lessons in the Latin language in the hands of those 
whom he wished to take into his ministry. 

We have also several remarkable examples of the literary 
eminence which was rapidly attained by many of his disciples, 
amongst whom may be particularly mentioned, Benhi, or 
Benignus ; Mochoe ; and Fiacc, of SlebhtSj or Sletty. This last 


is the author of a biographical poem on the Life of the Apostle lect. i. 
in the Gaedhlic language, a most ancient copy of which still ^^^^^^^^j^^ 
exists, and which bears mtemal evidence of a high degree of loss of the 
perfection in the language at the time at which it was com- ttoglf' ^^ 
posed. And it is unquestionably in all respects a genuine and 
native production, quite untinctured with the Latin or any other 
foreign contemporary style or idiom. 

There are besides many other valuable poems and other com- 
positions referable to this period which possess much of the 
same excellence, though not all of equal ability : and among 
these are even a few still extant, attributed, and with much 
probability, to Dubihach (now pronounced " Diivach", and in 
the old Norse sagas spelt Dufthahr)^ Ua Lugair, chief poet of the 
monarch io^^AaiVg (pron : nearly as "Layry"), who was uncle, 
on the mother's side, and preceptor of the Fiacc just mentioned.^*'^ 

It is to be remarked here that, in dealing with these early 
periods of Irish history, the inquirer of the present day has to 
contend with difficulties of a more than ordinary kind. Our 
isolated position prevented the contemporary chroniclers of other 
countries from giving to the affairs of ancient Erinn anything 
more than a passing notice ; while many causes have combined 
to deprive us of much of the light which the works of our own 
annalists would have thrown on the passing events of their day 
in the rest of Europe. 

The first and chief of these causes was the destruction and \ 
mutilation of so many ancient writings during the Danish occu- 
pation of Erinn; for we have it on trustworthy record, that 
those hardy and unscrupulous adventurers made it a special 
part of their savage warfare to tear, bum, and drown (as it is 
expressed) all books and records that came to their hands, in 
the sacking of churches and monasteries, and the plundering of 
the habitations of the chiefs and nobles. And that they des- 
troyed them, and did not take them away, as some have thought 
(contrary to the evidence of our records), is confirmed by the 
fact that' not a fragment of any such manuscripts has as yet 
been foimd among the collections of ancient records in Copen- 
hagen, Stockholm, or any of the other great northern reposi- 
tories of antiquities that we are acquainted with. 

Another, and, we may believe, the chief cause, was the oc- 

f«5 It has been thought proper to ^insert in the Appendix (No. Ill/) the text 
(with translation) of three of these curious poems, as specimens of the style 
and composition of so very early a writer. They are all on the subject of the 
battles and triumphs of King Crimthan, son of Enna Ceinnselach (King of 
Leinster in the time of the poet, t.e., the fifth century), and on those of Enna 


LEcrr. I. currence of the Anglo-Norman invasion so soon after the expul- 
Neffiect of ^^^^ ^^ ^® Dancs, and the sinister results which it produced 
the language upon the literary as well as upon all the other interests of the 
dem uLS° country. The protracted conflicts between the natives and 
their invaders were fatal not only to the vigorous resumption of 
the study of our language, but also to the very existence of a 
great part of our ancient literature. The old practice of repro- 
ducing our ancient books, and adding to them a record of such 
events as had occurred from the period of their first compila- 
tion, as well as the composition of new and independent works, 
was almost altogether suspended. And thus our national litera- 
ture received a fatal check at the most important period of its 
development, and at a time when the mind of Europe was be- 
ginning to expand under the influence of new impulses. 
-> Again, the discovery of printing at a subsequent period made 
works in other languages so much more easy of access than 
those transcribed by hand in the Irish tongue, that this also 
may have contributed to the farther neglect of native composi- 

Aided by the new political rule imder which the coimtry, 
after a long and gallant resistance, was at length brought, these 
and similar influences banished, at last, almost the possibility of 
cultivating the Gaedhlic literature and learning. The long- 
continuing insecurity of life and property drove out the native 
chiefs and gentry, or gradually changed their minds and feel- 
ings — the class which had ever before supplied liberal patrons 
of the national literature. 

Not only were the old Irish nobility, gentry, and people in 
general, lovers of their native language and literature, and 
patrons of literary men, but even the great Anglo-Norman 
nobles themselves who effected a permanent settlement among 
us, appear from the first to have adopted what doubtless must 
have seemed to them the better manners, customs, language, 
and literature of the natives ; and not only did they munificently 
patronize their professors, but became themselves proficients in 
these studies ; so that the Geraldines, the Butlers, the Burkes, 
the Keatings, and others, thought, spoke, and wrote in the 
Gaedhlic, and stored their libraries with choice and expensive 
volumes in that language ; and they were reproached by their 
own compatriots with having become " ipsis Hibemis Hiber- 
niores", — " more Irish than the Irish themselves". So great 
indeed was tlie value in those days set on literary and historical 
documents by chiefs and princes, that it has more than once 
happened that a much-prized MS. was the stipulated ransom of 
a captive noble, and became the object of a tedious warfare ; 



and this state of things continued to exist for several centuries, lbct. i . 
even after the whole framework of Irish society was shaken to j^^^^^^^^^ 
pieces by the successive invasions of the Danes, the Norsemen, encouraged 
and the Anglo-Normans, followed by the Elizabethan, Crom- chieftainil^" 
wellian, and Williamite wars and confiscations, and accQmpanied Jf'^^hit? na- 
by the ever-increasing dissensions of the native princes among tionai inde- 
themselves, disunited as they were ever after the fall of the ^^ *"^" 
supreme monarchy at the close of the twelfth century. 

With the dispersion of the native chiefs, not a few of the great 
books that had escaped the wreck of time were altogether lost 
to us ; many followed the exiled fortunes of their owners ; and 
not a few were placed in inaccessible security at home. Indeed, 
it may be said that after the termination of the great wars of 
the seventeenth century, so few and inaccessible were the exam- 
ples of the old Gaedhlic literature, that it was almost impos- 
sible to acquire a perfect knowledge of the language in its 

With such various causes, active and long-continued, in ope- 
ration to efiect its destruction, there is reason for wonder that 
we should still be in possession of any fragments of the ancient 
literature of our country, however extensive it may once have 
been. And that it was extensive, and comprehended a wide 
range of subjects — justifying the expressions of the old writers 
who spoke of " the hosts of the books of Erinn" — ^may be judged 
from those which have survived the destructive ravages of in- 
vasion, the accidents of time, and the other causes just enume- 
rated. When we come to inquire concerning the fragments 
which exist in England and elsewhere, they will be found to be 
still of ve^ large extent ; and if we judge the value and pro- 
portions of the original literature of our Gaedhlic ancestors, as 
we may fairly do, by what remains of it, we may be justly ex- 
cused the indulgence of no small feeling of national pride. 

Amongst the collections of Irish MSS. now accessible, many 
of the most remarkable can be shown to possess a high degree 
of antiquity ; and not only do they in many instances exmbit 
internal evidence of having been compiled firom still more ancient 
docimaents, but this is distinctly so stated in reference to several 
of the most valuable tracts contained in them. 

We also find numerous references to books, of which we now 
imfortunately possess no copies ; and these invaluable records, it 
is to be feared, are now irrecoverably lost. Of the works the 
originals of which have not come down to us, but with whose 
contents we are made more or less familiar by references, cita- 
tions, or transcripts in still existing MSS., I shall now proceed 
to give you a brief general outline ; reserving for another lecture 



the more detailed discussion of the subjects which they treat of, 

their historic value, and the place which they arc tjntitlcd U> 
occupy in the reconstruction of our ancient Uterature, 

Of the I. The first ancient book that I shall mention is one to which 

I have found but one or two references, and which I must in- 
troduce by a rather circuitous train of evidence. 

In the time of Senchan (pron. " Shencan"), tlien Chief Poet 
of Erinn, and of Saint Ciaran (pronounced in English zs if 
written *'Kieran"), of Cluain mic Nois, or Clonmacnoisej — that 
is about A.D. 580, — Senchan is stated to have culled a meeting 
of the poets and learned men of Erinn, to discover if any of 
them remembered the entire of the ancient Tak' of tlic Tain ho 
Chuailgne, or the Cattle Spoil or Cattle plimder of Cuail^e,^'* 
a romantic tale foimded upon an occurrence which is reierted 
to the beginning of the Cliristian Era. 

The assembled poets all answered that they remembered but 
fragments of the Tale ; whereupon Senchan coraimssioncd two 
of nis own pupils to travel into the country of Letha to Icam 
the Tale of the Tain, which the Saoi, or Profes^sor, had tahtn to 
the East after the Cuilmenn [or the great book written on 

The passage is as follows (see original in Appexdix» No. IV.) : 
** The Filis of Erinn were now called together by Senchan 
TorpUst^ to know if they remembered the Tdln hd Chuailpni 
in full ; and they said that they knew of it but fragments only. 
€enchan then spoke to his piipils to know which of them 
would go into the countries of Letha to learn tlie Tiiiti^ which 
the Sai had taken 'eastwards' after the Cuilmenn. Emine^ 
the grandson of Ninine, and Muirgen, Senchan 's own son, set 
out to go to the East". [Book of Leinster (H. 2. 18. T.C.D.), 
fol. 183, a.] 

This, to be sure, is but a vague reference, but it is ?iiiEcicnt 
to show that in Senchan's time there was at least a tradition 
that some such book had existed, and had been carried into 
Letha, the name by which Italy in general, and particiilarly 
that part of it in which Rome is situated, was designated by 
ancient Irish writers. Now the carrying awaj^ of this book is 
a circumstance which may possibly have occuiTcd during or 
shortly subsequent to St. Patrick's time. And so, fintling this 
reference in a MS. of such authority as the Book of Lemster 
(a well-known and most valuable compilation of the middle 
of the twelfth century), I could not pass it over here. 

<7) cuAitgne (Cuailgno), a di8trict now called Cooley, in the modem county of 


I remember but one other reference to a Book known by the lect. i. 
name of Cuilmennr^it occurs in the " Brehon Laws", and m an ^^^^ 
ancient Irish Law Glossary, compiled by the learned Duhhal- saltaib of 
tach Mac Firhisigh (Duald Mac Firbis), and preserved in the ^^^ 
Library of T.C.D. (classed H. 5. 30.)j in which the Seven Orders 
(or degrees) of " Wisdom" are distinguished and explained. 
(Wisdom, I should tell you, here technically signifies history 
and antiquity, sacred and profane, as well as the whole range of 
what we should now call a collegiate education.) It is in these 
words : — 

" Dniimcli^®' is a man who has a perfect knowledge of wis- 
dom, from the greatest Book, which is called Cuilmenn, to the 
smallest Book, which is called * Ten Words' \I)eich m-Breithir, 
that is * the Ten Commandments' ; a name given to the Penta- 
teuch], in which is well arranged the good testament which 
God made unto Moses". — [See Appendix, No. V.] 

The Cuilmenn here spoken of is placed in opposition to the 
Books of Moses, as if it were a repertory of history or other 
matter concerning events entirely apart from those contained 
in the sacred volume. 

n. The next ancient record which we shall consider is one 
about the authenticity of which much doubt and uncertainty 
have existed in modem times ; I allude to the Salt air of Tar a, 
the composition of which is referred to the third century. 

The oldest reference to this book that I have met with is to 
be foimd in a poem on the map or site of ancient Tara, written 
by a very distinguished scholar, Cuan O'Lochain, a native of 
Westmeath, who died in the year 1024. The oldest copy of 
O'Lochain's verses that I have seen is preserved in the ancient 
and very curious topographical tract so well known as the 
Dinnsenchas (pron: nearly "Dinnshanacus"), of which several 
ancient MS. editions have been made from time to time. The 
one from which I am about to quote is to be found in the Book 
of Ballymote, a magnificent volume compiled in the year 1391, 
and now deposited among the rich treasures of the Royal 

(9) 'OftiinicU, i.e^ he who has (or knows) the top -ridge (or highest range) 
of learning ; a word compounded of ■oiMiini, the ridge of a hill, or the back 
of a person, or the ridge of the roof of a house ; and cU, a form of cteit, 
the column, or tree, which in ancient times supported the house ; and the man 
who was a ■opuiincu was supposed to have climbed up the pillar or tree of 
learning to its very ridge or top, and was thus qualified to be a |:ei\tei5inn — 
a Professor, or man qualified to teach or superintend the teaching of the whole 
course of a college education. [The entire passage, in which the " Seven 
Orders of Wisdom'' are separately ex^ilained, will be found, with translation, 
in the Appendix, No. V.] 


LECT. I. Irish Academy. Tlie following extract (the original of which 
~ "" will be found in the Appendix, No. VI.) from the opening of 
Poem on" ' O'Lochain s most valuable poem contains somewhat more than 
^*'^*' an allusion to the Saltair of Tara : — 

Temair,^*' choicest of hills, 

For [possession of] which Erinn is now devastated, 

The noble city of Connac Son of Art, 

Who was the son of great Conn of the hundred battles : 

Connac, the prudent and good. 

Was a sage, &Jile (or poet), a prince: 

Was a righteous judge of the Fcne-men,^**** 

Was a good friend and companion. 

Cormac gained fifty battles : 

He compiled the Saltair of Temur. 

In that Saltair is contained 

The best summary of history ; 

It is that Saltair which assigns 

Seven chief kings to Erinn of harbours ; 

They consisted of the five kings of the provinces, — 

The monarch of Erinn and his Deputy. 

In it are (written) on either side. 

What each provincial king is entitled to. 

What the king of Temur m the east is entitled to, 

From the king of each great musical province. 

The synchronisms and chronology of all. 

The kings, with each other [one with another] all ; 

The boundaries of each brave province,^**^ 

From a cantred up to a great cliieftaincy. 

This important poem, which consists altogether of thirty-two 
quatrains, has been given (from the MS. H. 3. 3 in the Library 

<9>remAip, t.e. CeAtriiii^, is the nominative : reAt^ii\A6, the genitive, which is 
pronounced very nearly Tdra, as the place is now called in English. This 
celebrated hill is situated in the present county of Meath, but a few miles to 
the west of Dublin. The remains of the ancient palace of the Kings of Erinn 
are still visible upon it. ( See the admirable Memoir upon these remains pub- 
lished by Dr. Petrie in the eighteenth vol. of the Transactions of the Royal 
Irish Academy, in which a detailed map of the ruins is given.) It is more than 
probable that this poem was wTittenin the year 1001, when Brian Boroimhe 
showerl the first symptoms of a design to dethrone King Maelseachlainn or 

(10) " Fene-men". — ^Tliese were the farmers; and what is meant therefore is 
that Cormac was a righteous Judge of the ** Agraria Lex" of the Gaels. 

o>)This line has been translated '* The boundaries of each province ^owi 
the hill^'; but after much consideration I have clearly come to th« conclusion 
that the word in the original is intended for fo-c^uAiJ, or |:o-<i|vuAi*6, brave^ 
valiant, hardy^ and not |'o 6f uai6, from the hill. 


of Trinity College), with an English translation, by our dis- lect. i. 
tinguished countryman, Doctor Petrie,*in his valuable Memoir ^ ^^^ ^^^^^ 
of Temair, or Tara, published in the eighteenth volume of the of "Saitair". 
Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, p. 143. 

The Book of Ballymote, in the Library of the Royal Irish 
Academy [at fol. 145, a. a.], and the YeilowBook of Lecan, in 
that of Trinity College, Dublin [classed H. 2. 16.] at col. 889, 
both contain a (jprious article on the excellence of Cormac 
Mac Art as a king, a judge, and a warrior, from which I may 
extract here the following passage as also referring to the Saltair 
of Tara [see Appendix, No. VII.] : — 

" A noble work was performed by Cormac at that time, 
namely, the compilation of Cormac's Saltair, which was com- 
posed by him and the Seanchaidhe, [or Historians] of Erinn, 
mcluding Fintan, Son of Bochra, and Fithil, the poet and 
judge [both distinguished for ancient lore]. And their syn- 
chronisms and genealogies, the succession of their kings and 
monarchs, their battles, their contests, and their antiquities, 
from the world s beginning down to that time, were written ; 
and this is the Saltair oi Temair, which is the origin and 
foimtain of the Historians of Erinn from that period down to 
this time. This is taken from the Book of the Uachong- 

Dr. Petrie, in his remarks on the Saltair or Psalter of Tara 
(Transact. R. I. A., vol. xviii., p. 45), observes that " the very 
title given to this work is sufficient to excite well-founded sus- 
picion of its antiquity". His meaning evidently is, that the 
title of Saltair appears clearly to imply a knowledge of the 
Holy Scriptures, and can scarcely have been selected as the 
title of his work by a heathen author. 

We do not, however, anjrwhere read that the name of 
Psalter or Saltair, was given to this work by its compiler. We 
know that in later times the celebrated King-Bishop Cormac 
Mac Cullinan gave the same name of Saltair to the great simi- 
lar collection made by him about the close of the mnth or be- 
ginning of the tenth century. Did he call his compilation, or 
was it called by others, after the Saltair of Tara, compiled by 
the older Cormac in the third century ? Or even if we suppose 
the name of Saltair or Psalter to have originated with the 
Christian Cormac, the same name may have been afterwards 
given to the older work, from the similar nature of its con- 
tents, and from its having been compiled by another Cormac. 
If the one was worthy of being named Psalter of Cashel, as 
having been compilea at the command of a King of Cashel, 
the omer was equally entitled to the name of Psalter of Tara, 


L ECT. I. having been compiled by a King of Tara. There was time 
in- Petri enough from the beginning of the tenth century to the time 
on the we first find it mentioned under the name of Sahair and Psalter 
of Tara, to give full currency to the title ; and this supposition 
may, in part, perhaps, furnish an answer to another of Dr. 
Petrie's difficulties, via., that tliis book has not been quoted, 
nor any extract from it given, in any of our antient Irish au- 
thorities, although the Sahair of Cashel is frequently cited by 
them. Perhaps they have quoted it, altliough under other 
names, not yet ascertained by us to be identical with it, the 
name of Saltair of Tara not having been in their time univer- 
sally adopted as applicable to it. But a better answer to the 
difficulty is probably to be found In the fact, that the Saltair of 
Tara had perished before the twelfth or thirteenth century, and 
consequently was inaccessible to tlie compilers of tlie Books of 
Ballymote, Lecan, Hy Many, etc. For in tlie passage just 
[ quoted from the Book of Ballymote, its contents are described 

j on the authority of the Book of the Uachongbhail; whilst Cuan 

; O'Lochain, writing three centuries before, speaks of it (and 

I tinder the name of Saltair of Tara) as being in his time extant. 

It follows, then, beyond all reasonable doubt, that whether 
or not the name of Saltair or Psalter was originally given to 
this compilation, such a compilation existed, and that in the 
beginning of the eleventh century it was in existence, under 
I the name of Saltair of Tara, and believed to have been collected 

U under the patronage of Cormac Mac Art, who died in the 

!^ year 266. 

[ Before I leave the subject of the " Saltair", I cannot but 

observe, that the Rev. Dr. Keating also, a most learned Gaedhlic 
scholar, gives an explanation of the word quite in consonance 
with the preceding remarks. In the Preface to his History of 
Ireland he tells us that History in ancient times was all written 
in verse, for its better security, and for the greater facility of 
committing it to memory ; and he goes on to refer to the Saltair 
of Tara in the followmg words [see original in Appendix, No. 

"And it is because of its having been written in poetic 
metre, that the chief book which was in the custody of the 
Ollamh of the King of Erinn, was called the ' Saltair of Temair'; 
and the Chronicle of holy Cormac Mac Cullinan, ' Saltair of 
Cashel'; and the Chronicle of Aengus CeilS DS [or the 
** Culdee''], ' Saltair-na-Rann [that is, " Saltair of the Poems, 
or Verses"] ; because a Salm [Psalm] and a Poem are the 
same, and therefore a Salteriuin and a Duanairi [book of 
poems] are the same". 


III. Of the next in order of the lost books, the Book of lbct. t. 
THE Vachonobhail (proni "ooa cong-wall"), ahnost nothing is Qft^^ 
known beyond the bare name. The passage just quoted from ^**choko 
the Book of Ballymote and from the Yellow Book of Lecan, bhail. 
was copied into those MSS. from the lost book itself, accord- 
ing to the entry ; but what was the age of the book at that 

time it is now impossible to determine. The O'Clerys, how- 
ever, mention that they had access to it when compihng their 
Book of the Invasions of Erinn, that is in the year 1630 or 
1631. And Keating, in the Second Book of his History, 
mentions the Book of the Uachongbhail among the very ancient 
books or transcripts of very ancient books which were still 
extant in his own time, and of which he had made use. It was 
probably of the age of the Book of Lcinster, and kept at Kil- 
dare in 1626. 

IV. The next book of considerable antiquity that we find c[/^RoiiiL 
reference to is that called the Ciif Droma Snechta^ or Cin suechta. 
of Drom Snechta. The word Cin (pron : in Engl. " Kin") 

is explained in our ancient Glossaries as signifying a stave 
of five sheets of vellum: and the name of this book would 
siffnify, therefore, the Vellum-stave Book of Drom Snechta. 
The words Drom Snechta signify the snow-capped hill, or 
mountain ridge, and it is beueved to have been the name 
of a moimtain situated in the present county of Monaghan. 

The Cin of Drom Snechta is quoted in the Book of Bally- 
mote [fol. 12 a.] in support of the ancient legend of the ante- 
diluvian occupation of Erinn by the Lady Banbha, who is 
however in other Books called Ceaair (pron: "Kesar"). There 
are also two references to it in the Book of Lecan. The first 
of these [fol. 271 b.] is in the same words preserved in the 
Book of Ballymote : " From the Cin of Drom Snechta is [taken] 
this little [bit] as far as Cesair". — [See Appendix, No. IX.J 
The second is [fol. 77 b., col. 2] where the writer says in sum- 
ming up the genealogies of some of the families of Connacht, 
that he compiled them from the Chronicles of the Gaedhil: — 

" We have collected now this genealogy of the Ui-Diarmada 
out of the Chronicles of the Gaedhil, and out of Cormac's Saltair 
at Cashel, and out of the Book of Dundaleathghlas [Down- 
patrick], and out of the Books of Flann Mainistrech [Flann of 
Monasterboice], and out of the Cin of Drom Snechta, and out 
of the annals and historical books [of Erinn], until we have 
brought it jJl together here^. — [See Appendix, No. X.] 

The same valuable book quotes the Cin Droma Snechta 
again by direct transcript [at folio 123 a.], where it gives, first, 


LECT. I. the genealogies of the chieftains of the ancient Rudrician rac^ 

Emin th ^^ Ulster, in the ordinary way in which they are found in 

writer of the othcT books of the sumc and of a previous period ; and it then 

SneSiZ"'^ gives a different version, saying: — " The Cin of Drom Snecht^ 

says that it is (as follows) it ouglit to be". — [See Appendix, 

No. XL] This has reference to the pedigrees of the Irian race 

of Ulster, and immediately to that of the celebrated Knight of 

the Craebh Ruadh, or Royal Branch, Conall Ceamach.^'*' 

A short account of the Destruction of Bruiqhean Da Derga 
(The Court of Da Derga), and the death of the monarch Co- 
naire Mor, is quoted from the Cin of Drom Snechta in Leahhar 
na h-Uidhre,iol. 67 a.; and again, the Account of the birth of 
Cuchulainn, at fol. 80 b. from the same book. 

Doctor Keating, in his History, when introducing the Mile- 
sian colonists, gives their descent from Magog, the son of 
Japhet, on the authority of the Cin of Drom Snechta, which, 
he states, was compiled before Saint Patrick's mission to Erinn. 
His words are : " We will set down here the branching off of 
the race of Magog, according to the Book of Invasions (of Ire- 
land), which was called the Cin of Drom Snechta, and it was 
before the coming of (St.) Patrick to Ireland the author of 
that book existed". — [See Appendix, No. XII.] What autho- 
rity Dr. Keating had lor this statement we know not, as unfor- 
tunately he has not given it; and the only reference to the 
author's name that I have myself ever foimd is in a partially 
effaced memorandum in the Book of Leinster. This memo- 
randum is written in the lower margin of a page [fol. 230 b.], 
which contains genealogies of several of the chieitain lines of 
Ireland and Scotland. 

There is apparently but one word — the name of the writer — 
illegible at the beginning of this memorandum ; and with this 
word provisionally restored, the note would read thus : — 

" [Lrnfn, son of] Duach [that is], son of the King of Con- 
naclit, an Ollamh, and a prophet, and a professor in history, and 
a professor in wisdom, it was he that collected the Genea- 
logies and Histories of the men of Erinn in one book, that is, 
the Cin Droma Snechta J^ — [See Appendix, No. XIII.] 

The Duach here referred to (who was probably still alive at 
the time of Saint Patrick's coming) was the son of Brian, son 
of the Monarch Eochaidh Muighmhedhoin^ who died A.D. 865. 
(This Eochaidh was also the father of Niall of the Nine Ho^;- 

(i2> The chiefs whose pedigrees are here collecte<i are those whose names ap- 
pear in the ancient story of Deinlre and tlic tragical death of the sons of Uis- 
neach, of which the Graelic Society of Dublin pubU^ihed an inaccurate version 
in the year IfeOS 


tages, who was the father of LaegliairS, the Monarch of Erinn lect. i . 
at the time when Saint Patrick came on his mission in the year ^^ ^^^ 
432). Duach had two sons — Eoghan Srem, who succeeded ted in the 
him as King of Connacht and Emfn. Bter. 

A descendant in the fourth generation of this Duach was 
King of Connacht, and a Christian, namely, Duach Tenffumha, 
or Duach the sweet-tongued, who died, according to the An- 
nals of the Four Masters, a.d. 499, lea\'ing an only son, Senach, 
who was the ancestor of the OTlahertys of West Connacht. 

Now, aa there are but two of the name of Duach to be found 
in the whole line of the Kings of Connacht (of whom the first 
was a pagan and the second a Christian), the compiler of the 
Cin 01 Drom Snechta must have been the son of one or other ; 
and as the tradition concerning the book is, that it was written 
before Patrick's time, it is pretty clear, if we assume this tradi- 
tion to be correct, that the son of Duach Gralach was the com- 
piler. Finally, as his elder son, Eoghan Srem, succeeded him as 
king, it appears to me very probable that his younger son, Ernin, 
was the author of the Cin of Drom Snechta. This would fairly 
enough bear out the statement which Keating has put forward/**^ 

Dr. Keating makes another reference to the Cin, where, in 
speaking of the schools said to have been instituted by Fcnius 
Parsaidh, he says : — 

" Fenius sets up schools to teach the several languages, on the 
Plain of Seanar, in the city which the Cin Droma Sneachta calls 
Eothona, as the poet says", etc. — [See Appendix, No. XV.] 

It has been already observed that the ancient book called the 
Leabhar na A- Uidhre (which is in some part preserved in a 
M.S. of circa a.d. 1100, bearing the same name, in the Library 
of the Royal Irish Academy) contains a reference to the Cin 
of Drom Snechta, And to this very old authority may be added 
that of the Book of Leinster, in which (at fol. 149 b.) occurs 
the following curious passage : — . 

** From the Cin of Drom Snechta, this below. Historians/ 
say that there were exiles of Hebrew women in Erinn at tho 

(u) While these sheets were passing through the press (August^ 1858), I took 
advantage of an unusually bright day to m^e another careful examination of 
the time-blackened leaf of the Book of Leinster, in which this curious entry 
appears. I have this time had the satisfaction of being able to make out perfectly 
all the words, except the very first — ^the name of the son of Duach ; and this 
name itself, though not so clear as the remainder of the sentence, is, in my 
opinion, equally unmistakeable. To my eyes it is certainly epmti. It will be 
observed, on reference to the original (m the Appendix), that there is no word 
between Ernin and Duach, The word w-ac, " son", which should have been 
written here, seems to have been accidentally omitted by the scribe. The 
word however occurs only once, that is, after ** Duach". The sentence reads 
literally: "Ernin [of] Duach, [that is] son of the King of Connacht*',— Duach 



LECT. I. coming of the sons of Milesius, who had been driven by a sea 
^ ^^^ tempest into the ocean by the Tirren Sea. They were in Erinn 
skschas before the sons of Milesius. They said, however, to the sons 
of Milesius [who it would appear pressed marriage on them] 
that they preferred their own country, and that they would not 
abandon it without receiving dowry for alliance with them. It 
is from this circumstance that it is the men that purchase wives 
in Erinn for ever ; whilst it is the husbands that are purchased 
by the wives throughout the world besides". — [See Appendix, 
No. XVI.] 

This short extract is found also in a much longer and very 
curious article in the Book of Lecain [fol. 181 b.j, and there 
can be little doubt that both MSS. followed the original in the 
Cin of Drom Snechta. 

V. The next ancient written work that we find ascribed to 
this early period is the Senchas Mor (pron: " Shanchus m6r"), 
or Great Law-Compilation ; which was made, according to the 
Annals of Ulster, in the year 439, under the direction of nine 
emment persons, consisting of three kings, three bishops, and 
three FiUs^ [see ante^ note (2)]. The three chief personages 
engaged in this great work were Laeghairiy the Monarch of 
Ennn ; Patrick, the Apostle of Erinn ; and Ros, the Chief Fili 
of Erinn. 

A large portion, if not the whole, of this work has come down 
to us by successive transcriptions, dating from the close of the 
thirteenth, or beginning of the fourteenth, to the latter part of 
the sixteenth century. 

In the account of this work, generally prefixed to it, and 
which is in itself of great antiquity, we are told that it was 
Ros, the poet, that placed before Saint Patrick the arranged 
body of the previously existing Laws of Erinn ; that the Saint 
expunged from them all that was specially antichristian or 
otherwise objectionable, and proposed such alterations as would 
make them harmonize with the new system of religion and morals 
which he had brought into the coimtry ; that these alterations 
were approved of, adopted, and embodied in the ancient 
code ; and that code thus amended was established as the Na- 
tional Law throughout the land. 

The great antiquity of this compilation is admitted by Dr. 
Petrie, in his Memoir on Tara, already alluded to ; but that the 
professed authors of it could possibly have been brought toge- 

haTing been the King of Connacht. In the Appendix (No. XIV.) will be 
found the pedigree of Dnach Galach, who is by mistake confounded with his 
descendant Duach Tengumha, a succeeding King of Connacht, in the note (p) 
at p. 161 of Dr. O'Donoyan's Annals of the Four Masters, under the year 491). 


ther at the time of its reputed compilation, he denies, as did lect. i. 
Dr. Lanigan before him. Every year's investigation of our ^ ^^^ 
ancient records, however, shows more and more tneir veritable Library of 
character; and I trust that the forthcoming Report of the cvtSS™** 
Brehon Law Commission, of which Dr. Petrie is a member, *"'y^' 
wiU remove the excusable scepticism into which the caution 
of the more conscientious school of critics who succeeded the 
reckless theorists of Vallancey's time, has driven them. I beHeve 
it wiU show that the recorded account of this great revision of 
the Body of the Laws of Erinn is as fully entitled to confidence 
as any other well-authenticated fact of ancient history. 

But this subject (one obviously of great importance) will be 
thoroughly discussed in the forthcoming publication by the 
Brehon Law Commission, of this great monument of our ancient 
civilization ; so that you will understand why the subject cannot 
with propriety be entered into further here. So far as the ques- 
tion of tne antiquity of the contents of the Senchas Mor is 
concerned, I mav only observe that Cormac Mac Cullinan often 
quotes passages from this work in his Glossary, which is known 
to have been written not later than about the close of the 
ninth century. 

There is a curious account of a private collection of books, " of 
all the sciences", as it is expressea, given in a note to the Filiri^ 
or metrical Festology of Aengus CeU D6^ or the " Culdee"; it 
is to this effect: Saant Colum Cille having paid a visit to Saint 
Longarad of Ossory, requested permission to examine his 
books, but Longarad having refiised, Colum then prayed that 
his friend should not profit much by his refusal, whereupon the 
books became illegible immediately after his death ; and these 
books were in existence in that state in the time of the origi- 
nal author, whoever he was, of the note in the Filiri, 

The passage (for the original of which see Appendix, No. 
XVII.) IS as follows : it is a note to the stanza of the great poem, 
for September 3 ; which is as follows : — 


Longarad, a shining sun ; 
Mac Nisse with his thousands. 
From great Condere'". 

[Note.] — "Longarad the white-legged, o£ Magh Tuathat, in 
the north of Ossory (Osraighi) ; i.«., m Uihh Foirchellain; ie 
in JUagh Garad, in JDisert Garad particularly, and in Cill 
Gahkra in Sliabh Mairge^ in Lis J^ongarad. The * white- 



LECT I. legged', i.e., from great white hair wliicli was on his legs ; or his 
Of the nook ^^8^ ^^^ transparently fair. He was a Suidh (Doctor or Pro- 
of s.mochta- fessor) in classics, and in history, and in judgment (law), and 
in plilosophy ^^Jilidecht], [see aiitej note (2)]. It was to him 
Coium Cille went on a visit; and he concealed his books 
from him; and Colimi Cille left a *word' fof imprecation] 
on his books, i.e,, *May it not be of avail after thee', said 
he, * that for which thou hast shown inhospitality'. And this 
is what has been fulfilled, for the books exist still, and no man 
can read them. Now, when Longarad was dead, what the 
learned tell us is, that all the book-satchels of Erinn dropped 
[from their racks] on that night. Or they were the satchels 
which contained the books of sciences [or, professions] which 
were in the chamber in which Colum Cille was, that fell. And 
Colum Cille and all that were in that house wondered, and 
they were all astounded at the convulsions of the books, 
upon which Colum Cille said : * Longarad ', said he, * in 
Ossory, i.€., a Sa^^*^ (Doctor) in every science [it is he] that has 
died now'. ' It will be long until tliat is verified', said Baithin. 
' May your successor [for ever] be suspected, on account of 
this', said Colum Cille ; et dixit Colum Cille : — 

Lon is dead [Lon is dead] f^^ 

To cm Garad it is a great misfortune ; 

To Erinn with its countless tribes ; 

It is a destruction of learning and of schools. 

Lon has died, [Lon has died] ; 

In cm Garad great the misfortune ; 

It is a destruction of learning and of schools, 

To the Island of Erinn beyond her boundaries". 

However fabulous this legend may appear, it mil suflSlce, 
at all events, to show in what estimation books were held 
in the time of the scholiast of the works of Aengus, and also 
the prevalent belief in his time in the existence of an Irish 
literature at a period so long antecedent to his own. The pro- 
bability is that the books were so old at the time of this writer 
as to be illegible, and hence the legend to account for their 

CK) The word occurs in the original bo, — ^not spelled the same way in which it 
appears just before, probably owing to the carelessness of the scribe. 

(•a) In {incient poetry, when the second half line was a repetition of the first, 
it was very seldom written, though it was always well understood that it ought 
to be repeated. And in fact the metre would not be complete without this 


VI. There are some other ancient books quoted in the Annals lect. t. 
of Ulster, of which one is called the Book of Saint Mochta, 0^^^^^^^^, 
who was a disciple of Saint Patrick. This book is quoted at a.d. of cuawa, 
527, but it is uncertain whether it was a book of general An- SiLBmn!!" 
nak, or a Sacred Biograplnr. 

We also find mention of the Book of Cuana and the Book 
of Duhh da leithe. 

VII. The Book of Cuana, or Guana's Book of Annals, is 
quoted for the first time in the Annals of Ulster, at the year 
468, and repeatedly afterwards down to 610. The death of 
a person named Cuana, a scribe of Tredit (now Trevit, in 
Meath), is recorded in the same Annals (of Ulster), at the year 
738, after which year no quotation from Cuana's Book occurs in 
these Annals ; whence it may be inferred that this Cuana was the 
compiler of the work known as the Book of Cuana, or Cuanach. 

Vni. The same Annals of Ulster quote, as we have already 
said, the Book of Dubedaleithe^ at the years 962 and 1021, 
but not after. There were two persons of this name : one of 
them an Abbot, and the other a Bishop (of Armagh) ; th^ 
former from the year i)u5 to the year 998, and the latter from 
1049 to 1064 ; so that the latter must be presumed to have been 
the compiler of the Book of Dubhdaleithd* 

IX. Next after these, because of the certainty of its author s J/j^of^^'' 
time, I would class the Saltair of Cashel, compiled by the cashkl 
learned and venerable CormacMacCullinan, King of Munster 
and Archbishop of Cashel, who was killed in the year 903. 

At what time this book was lost we have no precise know- 
ledge; but that it existed, though in a dilapidated state, in the 
year 1454, is evident from the fact, that there is in the Bodleian 
Library in Oxford (Laud, 610), a copy of such portions of it as 
could be decipherea at that time, made by Sedarij or Shane, 
O'Clery for Mac Richard Butler. From the contents of this copy, 
and from the frequent references to the original, for history and 
genealoffies found in the Books of Balljrmote, Lecan, and others, 
it must have been a historical and genealogical compilation of 
large size and great diversity. 

If, as there is every reason to believe, the ancient compila- 
tion, so well known as Cormac's Glossary, was compiled from the 
interlined gloss to the Saltair, we may well feel that its loss is 
the greatest we have suffered, so numerous are the references 
and citations of history, law, romance, druidism, mythology, 
and other subjects in which this Glossary abounds. It is be- 



LECT. I. sides invaluable in the study of Gaedhlic comparative philo- 
logy, as the author traces a great many of the words either by 
lost books, derivation from, or comparison with, the Hebrew, the Greek, 
the Latin, the British, and, as he terms it, the Northmantic 
language; and it contains at least one Pictish word \_Cartaii], — 
almost the only word of the Pictish language that we possess. 
There is a small fragment of this Glossary remaining in the an- 
cient Book of Leinster (which is as old as the year 1150), and a 
perfect copy made about the year 1400 is preserved in the Royal 
Irish Academy, besides two fragments of it in O'Clery's copy 
of the Saltair already mentioned, the voliune in the Bodleian 
Library, at Oxford (Laud, 610). 

Besides the several books enumerated above, and the pro- 
bable dates of which we have attempted to fix, we find in 
several existing MSS. reference to many other lost books, 
whose exact ages and the relative order of time in which they 
were composed are quite uncertain. But the references to 
them are so numerous, and occur in MSS. of such different 
dates, that we may readily believe them to have embraced a 
tolerably extensive period m our history ; and it is highly pro- 
bable that they connected the most ancient periods with those 
which we find so well illustrated in the oldest manuscript re- 
cords which have come down to us. 

I do not profess to give here a complete enumeration of all 
the books mentioned in our records, and of which we have now 
no further knowledge, but the following list will be found to 
contain the names of those which are most frequently referred to. 

Li the first place must be enumerated again the Cuilmenn; 
the Saltair of Tara; The Cin Drama Snechta; the Book of 
St. Mochta; the Book of Cuana; the Book of Dubhdaleithe; 
and the Saltair of Cashel. Besides these we find mention of 
the Leahhar buidhe SldinCy or Yellow Book of Slane ; the ori- 
ginal Leabhar na h- Uidhre; the Books of Eochaidh O'Flanna- 
gain; a certain book known as the Book eaten by the poor 
people in the desert; the Book of Inis an Duin; the Sliort 
Book of Saint Buithe's Monastery (or Monasterbolce) ; the 
Books of Flann, of the same Monastery ; the Book of Flann 
of Dungeimhin (Dungiven, Co. Derry) ; the Book of Dun da 
Leth Ghlas (or Downpatrick) ; the Book of Doiri (or Derry) ; 
the Book of Sabhall Phatraic (or SauU, Co. Down) ; the Book 
of the Uachongbhail (Navan, probably); the Leabhar dubh 
Malaga, or Black Book of Saint Molaga ; the Leabhar buidhe 
Maling, or Yellow Book of Saint Molmg ; the Leabhar buidhe 
Mhic Murchadha, or Yellow Book of^ Mac Murrach; the 


Leabliar Arda Macha^ or Book of Armagh (quoted by Keat- lbct. i. 
ing); the Leabhar ruadh Mhic Aedhagairij or Red Book of 
Mac Aedhagan or Mac Aegan ; the Leabhar breac Mhic Aedh- referred to 
(wairiy or Speckled Book of Mac Aegan ; the Leahhar fada ^^ '^®*""«- 
Jueithghlinne, or Long Book of Leithglilinn, or Leithlin ; the 
Books of O'Scoba of Cltuiin Mic Nois (or Clonmacnois) ; 
the Dull Droma Ceata, or Book of Drom Ceat; and the 
Leabhar Chluana Sost, or Book of Clonsost (in Leix, in the 
Queen's County). 

Such, then, is a brief glance at what constituted probably 
but a few of the books and records of Erinn which we are sure 
must have existed, with perhaps three or four exceptions, an- 
terior to the year 1100, and of which there are now no frag- 
ments known to me to remain, though some of them are 
referred to in works of comparatively modem date. 

The Rev. Geoffry Keatmg (Parish Priest of Tubrid, near 
Clonmel) compiled, about the year 1630, from several ancient 
MSS. then accessible, a History of Erinn, from its earliest 
ascribed colonization, down to the Anglo-Norman Invasion in 
the year 1170. This book is written in the modified Gaedhlic 
of Keating's own time ; and although he has used but little dis- 
crimination in his selections from old records, and has almost en- 
tirely neglected any critical examination of his authorities, still 
his book is a valuable one, and not at all, in my opinion, the 
despicable production that it is often ignorantly said to be. 

Some of the lost works that I have mentioned are spoken of, 
and even quoted by this writer. He refers to the following 
books as being extant in his own time ; namely, the Book of 
Armagh (but evidently not the book now known under tiiis 
name) ; the Saltair of Cashel ; the Book of the Uachongbhail; the 
Book of Cluain Eidhneach (in Leix) ; the Saltair na Mann (writ- 
ten by Aengus CSile DS); the Book of Glenn dd Loclia; the 
Leabhar na h-Uidhrey which was written originally at Clvmn 
Mic Nbis, or Clonmacnoise, in Saint Ciaran's time ; the Yellow 
Book of Saint Moling ; the Black Book of Saint Molaga ; the Red 
Book of Mac Aegan ; and the Speckled Book of Mac Aegan. 

Of this list of Books, all of which were certainly extant in 
1630, we now know only the Saltair na Rann, whicn still exists 
in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. 

Prefixed to the Leabhar Gabhdla, or Book of Invasions, com- 
piled by the O'Clerys in 1630 or 1631, there is a list of the 
ancient books from which that compilation was made. They 
were the following : — The Book of BailS ui MhaoilchonairS 
or Bally Mulconroy, which had been copied by Maurice 


LEcT. 1. O^Maelchonaire, or O'Mulconroy (who died in 1543), out of 

Books ^^^ Leahhar na A- Uulhre^ whicn had been written at Cluain 

referred to 3fic NoU (Clomnacnols), in the time of Saint Ciaran ; the Book 

ii'aster..*'"' of Baile ui Chleirtgh, or Bally Clery, which was written in the 

time of Maekechlainn M6r^ or Malachy the Great, son of Domh- 

nail, monarch of Erinn (who began his reign a.d. 979) ; the 

Book of Muintir Duihhjhenainn, or of the O'Duigenans of 

Seanchuacfi in Tir Oil ilia, or Tirerrill, in the county of Sligo, 

and which was called the Leahhar Ghlinn da Locha, or Book 

of Glenndaloch ; and Leahhar na h- Uachonghhala, or the Book 

of the Uachongbhail ; with many other histories, or historical 

books besides. 

Of this list of Books not one is known to me to be now extant. 
The ever to be remembered Michael O'Clery, and his fel- 
low-labourers (who together with him are familiarly known as 
the Four Masters), insert in their Annals a list of the ancient 
books from which that noble work was compiled. They were 
the following: — The Book of Cluain Mic Noia, or Clonmac- 
noise ; the Book of the Island of the Saints in Loch Ribh (or 
Loch Ree), in the Shannon ; the Book of Seanadh Mhic Magh- 
nusa, in Loch EbmS, or Loch Erne; the Book of Muintir 
Mhaoilchonaire, or the O'Mulconroys ; the Book of Muintir 
DuibhgheTiann, or of the O'Duigenans, of Cill Ronain; and the 
Histoncal Book of Leacain Mic Fhirhhisigh, or Lecan Mac 
Firbis. The Books of Cluain Mic Nois and of the Island of the 
Saints come down but to the year 1225. The Book of the 
O'Mulconroys came down to the year 1505. The Book of the 
O'Duigenans contained entries extending only from the year 
SIOO to the year 1563. The Annals of Seanadh Mic Magh- 
nusa (now called the Annals of Ulster) came down to the 
year 1632. The Four Masters had also a fragment of Cucoi- 
griche (a name sometimes Englished Peregrine), O'Clery 's Book, 
containing Annals from the year 1281 to the year 1537. The 
Book oiMaoilinSg Mac Bruaideadha, or Maoilin the younger 
Mac Brody, of Thomond, containing Annals from the year 
1588 to the year 1602, was also in their possession, as well as 
^ Lughaidh O'Clery's Book, containing Annals from the year 

^ I 1586 to 1603. This last book was probably that known at 

the present day as the Life of Aedh Ruadh, or Hugh Roe 
O'Donnell ; wliich was written by this same Lughaidh O'Clery, 
and from which the Four Masters have evidently taken all the 
details given in their Annals relating to that brave and imfor- 
tunatc Prince.^'*^ 

'»6) A MS. copy of this work, in the handwriting of Cucogrjr O'Clery, the 
son of the original compiler, has been lately [I So 8] purchased by the Rev. Dr. 



Of this list of Books (with the exception of the last men- lect. i 
tioned) not one is known to me to be now in existence except- ^^ ^^^ 
ing the Annals of Ulster, the copy of Liigaidh O'Clery's Book, Library of 
made by his son Cucogry , and the book which is now known DuSiiir **" ' 
as the 6ook of Lecain, in the Royal Irish Academy, but which 
at present contains nothing that could be properly called Annals, 
though there are in it some pages of occurrences with no dates 

The language in which such a number of books was written 
must have been highly cultivated, and foimd fully adapted to 
the purposes of the historian, the poet, the lawyer, the physi- 
cian, and the ecclesiastic, and extensively so used ; else it may be 
fairly assumed that Aengus CSile DS, Cormac Mac CuUinan, 
Eochaidh OTlannagan, Cuan O'Lochain, Flann of Saint Buitke^s 
Monastery, and all the other great Irish writers from the seventh 
to the twelfth century, who were so well acquainted with Latin, 
then the universal medium, would not have employed the Gaedh- 
lic for their compositions. 

Notwithstanding, however, the irreparable loss of the before- 
named books, there still exists an immense quantity of Gaedhlic 
writing of great purity, and of the highest value as regards - 
the history of this coimtiy. And these MSS. comprise general 
and national history ; civil and ecclesiastical records ; and abun- 
dant materials of genealogy ; besides poetry, romance, law, and 
medicine; and some fragments of tracts on mathematics and 

The collection in Trinity College consists of over 140 
volumes, several of them on vellum, dating from the early part 
of the twelfth down to the middle of the last century. There 
are also in this fine collection beautiful copies of the Gospels, 
known as the Books of Kells, and Durrow, and Dimma's Book, 
attributable to the sixth and seventh centuries ; the Saltair of St. 
Ricemarch, bishop of St. David's, in the eleventh century, con- 
taining also an exquisite copy of the Roman Martyrology ; and 
a veiy ancient antc-Hieronymian version of the Gospels, the 
history of which is unknown, but which is evidently an msh MS. 
of not later than the ninth century ; also the Evangclistarium of 
St. MoUng, bishop of Ferns in the seventh century, with its an- 
cient box ; and the fragment of another copy of the Gospels, of 
the same period, evidently Irish. In the same library will 
be foxmd, too, the chief body of our more ancient laws and 

Todd, S.F.T.C.I)., at the sale of the books of Mr. W. Monck Mason, in London, 
and is destined soon (if funds to secure it can be raised) to enrich still farther 
tlie splendid collection of the Royal Irish Academy. 



L ECT. 1. annals : all, with the exception of two tracts, written on vel- 
Mss. in the ^^^"^ ' *"^» "* addition to these invaluable volumes, many his- 
Librwy of tohcal and &mily poems of great antiquity, illustrative of the 
irtsh^^^*^ battles, the personal achievements, and the social habits of the 
Academy, warriors, chicfe, and other distinguished personages of our early 
history. There is also a large number of ancient historical and 
romantic tales, in which all the incidents of war, of love, and of 
social life in general, are portrayed, often with considerable power 
of description and great brilliancy of language : and there are 
besides several sacred tracts and poems, amongst the most 
remarkable of which is the Liber Hymnorum, believed to be 
more than a thousand years old/'^^ The Trinity College col- 
lection is also rich in Lives of Irish Saints, and in ancient forms 
of prayer ; and it contains, in addition to all these, many curious 
treatises on medicine, beautifully written on vellum. Lastly, 
amongst these ancient MSS. are preserved numerous Osaanic 
poems relating to the Fenian heroes, some of them of very 
great antiquity. 

The next great collection is that of the Royal Irish Aca- 
demy, which, though formed at a later period than that of Tri- 
nity College, is far more extensive, and taken in connection 
with the unrivalled collection of antiquities secured to this 
country by the liberality of this body, forms a national monu- 
ment of which we may well be proud. It includes some noble 
old volumes written on vellum, abounding in history as well as 
poetry ; ancient laws, and genealogy ; science (for it embraces 
several curious medical treatises, as well as an ancient astrono- 
mical tract) ; grammar ; and romance. There is there also a 
great body of most important theological and ecclesiastical com- 

Eositions, of the highest antiquity, and in the purest style per- 
aps that the ancient GraedhUc language ever attained. 
The most valuable of these are original Gaedhlic composi- 
tions, but there is also a large amount of translations from the 
Latin, Greek, and other languages. A great part of these 
translations is, indeed, of a religious character, but there are 
others from various Latin authors, of the greatest possible im- 
portance to the Gaedlilic student of the present day, as they 
enable him by reference to the originals to determine the value 
of many now obsolete or obscure Gaedhlic words and phrases. 

Among these latter translations into Irish, we find an exten- 
sive range of subjects in ancient Mythology, Poetry, and His- 

^7) This inTaluAble MS. is in course of publication (a portion haying heea 
issued since the above lecture was delivered), by the Irish Archaralogi- 
cal and Celtic Society, under the able superintendence of the Rev. Dr. Todd. 


tory, and the Classical Literature of the Greeks and Romans, lect. i. 
as well as many copious illustrations of the most remarkable ^gg ^^ 
events of the Middle Ages. So that any one well read in the various u- 
comparatively few existmg fragments of our Graedhlic Litera- ligumd.'* 
ture, and whose education had been confined solely to this 
source, would find that there are but very few, indeed, of the 
great events in the history of the world, the knowledge of 
which is usually attained through the Classic Languages, or 
those of the middle ages, with which he was not acquainted. 
I may mention by way of illustration, the Lish versions 
of the Arffonautic Expedition ; the Destruction of Troy ; the 
Life of Alexander the Great; the Destruction of Jerusalem; 
the Wars of Charlemagne, including the History of Roland 
the Brave ; tie History of the Lombards ; the almost contem- 
porary translation into Gtiedhlic of the Travels of Marco Polo, 
etc., etc^ 

It is quite evident that a Language which has embraced so 
wide a field of historic and other important subjects, must have 
undergone a considerable amount of development, and must 
have been at once copious and flexible ; and it may be ob- 
served, in passing, that the very fact of so much of translation 
into Irish having taken place, shows that there must have been 
a considerable number of readers; since men of learning would 
not have translated for themselves what they could so easily un- 
derstand in the original. 

Passing over some collections of MSS. in private hands 
at home, I may next notice that of the British Museum in 
London, which is ve^ considerable, and contains much valuable 
matter; that of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, which, though 
consisting of but about sixteen volumes, is enriched by some 
most precious books, among which is the copy already alluded to 
of the remains of the Saltair of Cashel, made in the year 1454 ; 
and some two or three works of an older date. !Next comes 
the Stowe collection, now in the possession of Lord Ash- 
bumham, and which is tolerably well described in the Stowe 
Catalogue by the late Rev. Charles 0*Conor. There are also 
in England some other collections in the hands of private indi- 
viduals, as that of Mr. Joseph Monck Mason^^^ in the neigh- 

(18) This collection has been lately sold (1858>-«nce the preparation of this 
lecture; and through the exertions of the Bey. Dr. Todd, F.T.C.D., two of the 
most valnable MSS. contained in it have been secured for Irelajid, and, if 
funds can be procured, will probably be added to the collection of the Royal 
Irish Academy; the teAbAi\ treAjVAniAiJe, or Book of Fermoy, on vellum, 
and the copy before mentioned of Lughiudh 0'Cl(ry*B Life of Bed Hugh 
O'Donnell in the handwriting of Cucogry O'Clery. 


LECT. L bourhood of London, and that of Sir Tliomas Phillipps in Wor- 

Mss on the ^^^^^^^- The Advocatcs' Library in Edinburgh contains a 

Continent few important volumes, some of which are shortly described in 

the Highland Society's Report on MacPhersons Poems of 

Oisin, published in 1794. 

And passing over to the Continent, in the National or Im- 
perial Library of Paris (which, however, has not yet been 
thoroughly examined), there will be found a few Graedhlic 
volimies; and in Belgium (between which and Ireland such in- 
timate relations existed in past times), — and particularly in the 
Burgundian Library at Bi-ussels, — there is a very important 
collection, consisting of a part of the treasures formerly in the 
possession of the Franciscan College of Louvain, for which our 
justly celebrated Friar, Michael O'Clery, collected, by transcript 
and otherwise, all that he could bring together at home of 
matters relating to the ancient ecclesiastical history of his 
MSS. In the The Louvaiu collection, formed chiefly, if not wholly, by 
s^ w.Wa, Fathers Hugh Ward, John Colgan, and Michael O'Clery, be- 
in Borne. twccu the years 1620 and 1640, appears to have been widely 
scattered at the French Revolution. For there are in the Col- 
lege of St. Isidore, in Rome, about twenty volumes of Gaedhlic 
MSS., which we know at one time to have formed part of 
the Louvain collection. Among these manuscripts now at 
Rome are some of the most valuable materials for the study of 
our language and history — the chief of which is an ancient copy 
of the Felire Aengusa, the Martyrology, or Festology of Aengua 
C^ile D6^ (pron: "K<?'li D^'"^, incorrectly called Aengus the 
Culdee, who composed the original of this extraordinary work, 
partly at Tamhlacht^ now Tallaght, in the county of Dublin, 
♦| and partly at Cluain Eidhnech in the present Queen's County, 

|. in the year 798. The collection contains, besides, the Festology 

il of Catnal M*Guire,^**^ a work only known by name to the Irish 

scholars of the present day ; and it includes the autograph of the 
first volume of the Annals of the Four Masters. There is also 
a copy, or fragment, of the Liber Hymnorum already spoken of, 
and which is a work of great importance to the Ecclesiastical 
History of Ireland ; and besides these the collection contains 
several important pieces relating to Irish History, of which no 
copies are known to exist elsewhere. It may be hoped, there- 
fore, that our Holy Father the Pope — who feels such a deep 
interest in the success of this National Institution — will at no 
distant day be pleased to take steps to make these invaluable 

ns) This is probably a copy of Aengus's Festology, with additional Notes by 
MacQuire, who died a.d. 1499. 


works accessible to the Irish student, by placing them within the lect. i. 
walls of the Catholic University of Ireland, where only they can 
be made available to the illustration of the early History of the 
Catholic Fdth in this country. 

Lastly should be noticed the Latin MSS. from which Zeuss mss. descn 
drew the materials for the Irish portion of his celebrated ^^^^y^eusa. 
Grammatica Celtica (Lipsiae, 1853). The language of the 
Irish glosses in these codices is probably older, in point of 
transcription, than any specimens of Irish now left in Ire- 
land, excepting the few passages and glosses contained in 
the Books of Armagh and Dimma, with the orthography and 
grammatical forms of which the Zeussian glosses correspond 
admirably. The following is a Ust of the Zeussian Codices 
Hibernici, which, as Zeuss himself observes, are all of the 
eighth or the ninth century, and were either brought from 
Ireland, or written by Irish monks in continental monasteries. 

I. A codex of Priscian, preserved in the library [at St. GaU 
in Switzerland, and crowaed with Irish glosses, interlinear 
or marginal, from the beginning down to page 222. A mar- 
ginal gloss at p. 194, shows that the scribe was connected 
with Lois Madoc, an islet in the lake of Templcport, coimty 
Lei trim. 

II. A codex of St. Paul's Epistles, preserved in the library 
of the university of Wiirzburg, and containing a still greater 
number of glosses than the St. Grail Priscian. 

III. A Latin commentary on the Psalms, formerly attributed 
to St. Jerome, but which Muratori, Peyron, and Zeuss concur 
in ascribing to St. Columbanus. This codex, which is now 
preserved m the Ambrosian Hbrary at Milan, was brought 
thither from Bobbio. It contains a vast amount of Irish 
glosses, and will probably, when properly investigfeted,^*^ 
throw more light on the ancient Irish language than any 
other MS. 

IV. A codex containing some of the venerable Bede*s works, 
preserved at Carlsruhc, and formerly belonging to the Irish 
monastery of Reichenau. This MS. contains, besides many 
Irish glosses, two entries which may tend to fix its date: 
one is a notice of the death of Aed, king of Ireland, in the 
year 817; the other a notice of the death of Muirchad mac 
Maileduin at Clonmacnois, in St. Ciaran's imda or bed. 

V. A second codex of Priscian, also preserved at Carlsruhe, 

f*o> ZeuM (Praef., xxxi.) mentions that he was unable to derote the neces- 
sarj time either to this MS. or to the fragment of an Irish codex preserved at 
Turin, which, I believe, is a copiously glossed portion of St. Mark's Gospel. 


LECT. I. and brought thither from Reichenau. It contains fewer Irish 

Mss deacri- g^^^^scs than the St. Gall Priscian. 

bedbyzeuai. VI. A miscellaneous codex, preserved at St. Grail (No. 
1395), and containing some curious channs against strangury, 
headache, etc., which have been printed by Zeuss. Goibnenn 
the smith, and Diancecht the leech, of the Tuatha Di Danann^ 
are mentioned in these incantations. 

VII. A codex preserved at Cambray, and containing, besides 
the canons of an Irish council held a.d. 684, a fragment of 
an Irish sennon intermixed with Latin sentences. This MS. 
was written between the years 763 and 790. A faC'simile^ 
but inaccurate, of this Irish fragment may be found m Appen- 
dix A (unpublished) to the Report of the English Record Com- 

It is, I may observe in conclusion, a circumstance of great 
importance, that so much of our ancient tongue should nave 
been preserved in the form of glosses on the words of a lan- 
guage so thoroughly known as Latin. Let us avail ourselves 
of our advantages in this respect by collecting and arranging 
the whole of these glosses, before time or accident shall have 
rendered it difficult or impossible to do so. 

I have thus endeavoured to place before you some evidences 
of an early cultivation of the language and literature of Ire- 
land. The subject would require much more extensive illus- 
tration and much more minute discussion than can be given to 
it in a public Lecture; and time did not allow more than a 
rapid enumeration of the more ancient works, and a brief 

fiance at their contents, such as you have heard. Sufficient, 
owever, has been said in opening to you the consideration of 
the subject, to show what an immense field lies before us, and 
what abundant materials still exist for the illustration of the 
History and Antiquities of our country, and, above all, of that 
most glorious period in our Annals, the early ages of Catholi- 
cism in Ireland. 

The materials are, I say, still abundant: we want but men 
able to use them as they aeserve. 

(SI) This Sermon is printed entire, together with corrections and a translation 
furnished by me some years ago Tthrongh the Rey. J. Milcy, then President 
of the Irish College in Paris), in the Bibliothique de VEcole des CharteSy S"** 
serie, tome 3™«« Jany.-Fevr., 1852, 8™ liTraison, p. 193. [Paris : DumonUn, 


CDdlTeral Ifltfa lUrcli, 189&.] 

Of the Cuilmenn, Of the T&in bo ChmUgnd, Of Cormac Mac Airt, Of 
the Book of AcailL 

In speaking of the earKest written documents of ancient Erinn, Q^the 
of which any account has come down to us, I mentioned that Cuiuikoc. 
we had incidental notices of the existence, at a venr remote 
period, of a Book called the Cuilrrienn. It is brought under 
consideration by references made to a very ancient tale, of 
which copies still exist. The first notices of the Cuilmenn have 
been already partly alluded to in the first lecture, but we shall 
now consider them at greater length ; and in doing so, we shall 
avail ourselves of the opportunity thus afforded, to illustrate, in 
passing, a period of our history, remote indeed, and but little 
Known, yet filled with stirring incidents, and distinguished by 
the presence of very remarkable characters. 

According to the accounts given in the Book of Leinster, to 
which I shall presently refer, Dalian Foraaill, the chief poet 
and Fil4 of Erimi, [see ante, note (2)] (author of the celebrated 
Amhra or post mortem Panegyric on St. Colum Cille), having 
died about the year 598, Senchan Torpeist, then a File of dis- 
tinction, was called upon to pronounce the funeral elegy or 
oration on the deceased bard. The young Fil4 acquitted him- 
self of this so much to the satisfaction of his assembled brethren, 
that they immediately elected him Ard Ollamh in Filedechty 
that is chief FiU of Erinn. 

Some time afler this, Senchan called a meeting of the Filh of or the rcco. 
Erinn, to ascertain whether any of them remembered the whole xSe o/ the 
of the celebrated tale of the Tain B6 Chuailgni, or " Cattle ^^jl^^^,. 
spoil of Cuailgn^" (a place now called Cooley, in the modem 
coimty of Louth). All the Filis said that they remembered 
only iragments of it. On receiving this answer, Senchan ad- 
dressed himself to his pupils, and asked if any of them would 
take his blessing and go mto the country of Letha to learn the 
Tdin, which a certain Saoi or professor had taken to the east 
afler the Cuilmenn (that is, the Book called Cuilmenn), had been 
carried away. {Letha was the ancient name, in the Gaedhilg, 
for Italy, particidarly that region of it in which the city of 
Rome is situated). — [See Appendix, No. XVIII.] 


lacT. n, Elmine, the grandson of Ninene, and Murgen, SeBchan^s 

own son, volunteered to go to the east for that purpose. 

cuaitgnin^ Having set out on their journey, it happened tnat the first 

mTjKc^*^ place to which they came was the grave of the renowned chief 

S<K^A. Fergus Mac R6igh, in Connacht ; and Murgen sat at the grave 

while Emine went in search of a house of hospitality. 

While Murgen was thus seated he composed and spoke a 
laidh^ or lay, for the gravestone of Fergus, as if it haa been 
Fergus himself he was addressing. 

Suddenly, as the story runs, there came a great mist which 
enveloped him so that he could not be discovered for three 
days ; and during that time Fergus himself appeared to him 
in a beautiful form, — ^for he is described as adorned with brown 
hair, clad in a green cloak, and wearing a collared gold-ribbed 
shirt, a gold-huted sword, and sandals of bronze : and it is said 
that this apparition related to Murgen the whole tale of the 
ii 7am, from beginniug to end, — the tale which he was sent to 

i seek in a foreign land. 

.j This Fergus Mac R6igh was a great Ulster prince, who had 

J gone into voluntary exile, into Connacht, tlirough feelings of 

j dislike and hostility to Conor Mac Ncssa, the king of Ulster, 

i for his treacherously putting to death the sons of uisnech, for 

whose safety Fergus had pledged his faith according to the 
knightly customs of the time. And afterwards when me Tain 

iB6 Clmailgni occurred, Fergus was the great guide and director 
of the expedition on the side of the Connacht men against that 
of Conor Mac Nessa, and, as it would appear, he was himself 
, also the historian of the war. 

iThis version of the story is from the Book of Leinster. 
However, according to another account, it was at a meeting of 
the FHXh^ and some of the saints of Erinn, which was held near 
the Cam, or grave that Fergus appeared to them and related the 
tale ; and St. Ciaran thereupon wrote down the tale at his dic- 
tation, in a book which he nad made from the hide of his pet 
cow. This cow from its colour was called the Odhar, or dark 
gray ; and from this circumstance the book was ever after known 
as Leabhar na h- Uidhre (pron : nearly " Lewar, or Lowr na 
heer-a"), or "The Book of the dark gray [Cow]", — ^the form 
Uidhre being the genitive case of the word Odhar, 

According to this account (which is tliat given in the ancient 
tale called Lniliecht na trom ddimhi^ or the Adventures of the 
Great Company, i.^., the company or following of Senchan), 
after the election of Senchan to the position of Chief Fili^ he 
paid a visit to Gvmri the Hospitable, King of Connacht, at 
nis palace of Durlus, accompanied by a large retinue of atten- 


dants, or subordinate files, and pupils, as well as women, and lbct. u. 
servants, and dogs; so that their sojourn there was so oppres- jj^^jj^n^ 
sive, that at their going away, Marhhan, King Guair^ s wise to the lost 
brother, imposed it as an obligation on Senchan to recover the ^^'*"*"'*" 
Tale of the Tdin B6 Chuailgni. Senchan accordingly went 
into Scotland to search for it, but having found no trace of 
it there, he returned home again ; and then Marhhan advised 
him to invite the saints of Ireland to meet him at the grave of 
Fergus, where they were to fast three days and three mghts to 
God, praying that he would send them Fergus to rekte to 
them the history of the Tdin, The story goes on to say that 
St. CailUn of Fiodhnacha (in the present county of Leitrim), 
who was Senchan's brother by his mother, imdertook to invite 
the saints ; and that the following distinguished saints came to 
the meeting, namely, St. Colum Cille, St. CaiUin himself, St. 
CSaran of Clonmacnois, St. Brendan of Birra, and St. Brendan 
the son of Finnlogha; and that after their fast and prayer, 
Fergus did appear to them, and related the story, and tnat St. 
Ciaran of Clonmacnois, and St. CaiUin of Fiodhnacha^ wrote it 

This ancient tale is referred to in the Book of Leinster, 
a MS. of the earlier half of the twelfth century, though it re- 
mains to us only in the form preserved in copies of a much 
more modem date, one of which is in my possession. 

The next notice of a Cuilmeim, as I have already shordy 
stated, is to be foimd in an ancient glossary, where the " seven 
Orders of Wisdom", — that is, the seven degrees in a literary 
college, including the student on his first entrance, —are distin- 
guished by name and qualifications. The highest degree was 
the DruimcU^ who, as it is stated, had knowledge " of all wis- 
dom, from the greatest book which is called Cuilmenn to the 
smallest book which is called Deich m-Breithir, in which is 
well arranged the good Testament which God made unto 
Moses". — ^TSee Appendix, No. V.] 

What the Cuilmenn mentioned here was, we have no positive 
means of knowing ; but as an acquaintance with both profane 
and sacred writings is set down amongst the qualification of 
each degree of the order of Wisdom, it may be assumed that 
the Cuilmenn embraced profane, as the Deich m-Breithir did 
sacred learning ; since it appears that the Drumcli was versed 
in all profane and sacred knowledge. 

Another instance of the occurrence of the word Cuilmenn is 
foimd in the lower margin of a page of the book now called the 
Leahhar BreaCy the proper name of which was Leabhar M6r 
Duna DoighrSj that is, the Great Book of Dun Doighr^ (a 


LECT. u. place on the Connacht side of the Shannon, some miles below 
Accoont of *^® town of Athlone). In this book, which is preserved in the 
the ^M» Bo Library of the Royal Irish Academy, the foUowmg words appear 
• in a hand three hundred years old: — " A trying of his pen by 
Fergal, son of William, on the great Cuilmend". — [See Appeh- 
Dix, No. XIX.] This " great Cuilmend" was of course the 
book on which ne wrote these words, viz., the Leabhar Duna 
Doighre just mentioned ; and this passage establishes the use of 
the word to designate a book, generally. It may be also ob- 
served that the word {Cuilmenn) in its original meaning lite- 
rally signifies the skin of a cow.^^ 
To return to the Tain B6 ChuaiJgni, 
j This tale belongs to a period of considerable antiquity, and 

I in it we find introduced in the course of the narration the 

* names of several personages who acted a very important part 

c in our history, and whose deeds are recorded by most of our 

■" annalists. As the tale is itself curious and interesting, and be- 

^ sides supplies a pretty good view of the customs and manners 

^ of the times, it will be interesting to give you here a brief 

sketch of it. 

When the Argonautic Expedition, the Siege of Troy, or any 
others of the notable occurrences of the very old periods of the 
world's history, are brought under consideration, not the least 
interesting and valuable features which they present are the 
» . illustrations they furnish us of the habits and life of the various 

people to whom they relate, and it is of little moment to 
; attempt to fix the precise year of the world's age in which they 

actually happened. 

Some persons complain that our Irish Annals are too precise 
I in the time and place assigned to remote events, to be altoge- 

J ther true ; but this is a subject not to be disposed of in a cur- 

i soiy review like the present. At present my intention is only 

to draw briefly, for the purpose of illustration, from one of the 
oldest and most remarkable of our national historic tales. I do 

(M>That the word Cuitmerin signified, in the first instance, a Cow-skin, 
appears from the following passage in an ancient Glossary in the Library of 
the Royal Irish Academy (MS. No. 74 of the collection, purchased from 
Messrs. Hodges and Smith): CotAmtiA -pcAnb, .1. CtnLmenriA -pcApb; "the 
skins of cows", — ^from ctJittnetiri a skin, and feA|\b a cow. That the word 
Cuilmenn was applied to a Book, is proved not only by the i^assage above 
quoted, in which the leAbAjv ni6n "OunA Doigne is so called, but still more di- 
rectly by an explanation or it wnich is to be found in anoUier ancient Glos- 
saiy, preserved in a MS. in the Library of IMn. Coll., Dublin (classed H. 3. 
is.). In this Glossary the word occurs in reference to the lost book above 
mentioned, and to the quotation from it alluded to in the text : — " Cuilmenn^ 
I «., a Book ; ut est: * Which the Professor carried to the East after the Cuil- 
memC ".—[See original in Appendix, No. XX.] 


not propose here to enter into any critical discussion as to tKe lect. n. 
historic accuracy of its details; but I may observe that, though ^ ^^^^^^ 
often exhibiting high poetic colouring in the description of par- the Tdin no 
ticular circumstances, it unquestionably embraces and is all ^'*»^»'^- 
through founded upon authentic historic facts. The Tdin B6 
Chuailgni is to Irish, what the Argonautic Expedition, or the 
Seven against Thebes, is to Grecian history. 

Many copies of the tale still exist. As has been seen, we 
have traced it back to one of perhaps the oldest written records, 
one of which we now retam little more than the name. We know 
unfortunately nothing of the other contents of the Cuilmenn; 
but if we may judge from the character of the events detailed in 
the Tdin, we may fairly suppose this Great Book to have been a 
depository of the most remarkable occurrences which had taken 
place in Ancient Erinn up to the time of its composition. 

We are told in our Annals and other ancient writings, that 
Eochaidh Feidlech closed a reign of twelve years as Monarch 
of Erinn in Anno Mundi 5069, or a little above a himdred 
years before the Incarnation, according to the chronology of the 
Annals of the Four Masters. This prince was directly descended 
from Eremon (one of the surviving leaders of the Milesian colo- 
nists), and succeeded to the monarchy by right of descent. 

Eochaidh had three sons and several daughters, and among 
his daughters one named Meadhhh (pron: "Meav"), who, from 
her early youth, exhibited remarkable traits of strength of mind 
and vigour of character Meav, in the full bloom of life and 
beauty, was married to Conor, the celebrated provincial King 
of Ulster ; but the marriage was not a happy one, and she soon 
left her husband and returned to her father's court. The reign 
of the monarch, her father, had at this time been embittered by 
the rebellion of his threp sons, which was carried so far that he 
was at last compelled to give them battle ; and a final engage- 
ment took place between the two parties at Ath Curnai?^ (the 
ancient name of a ford near Mullmgar), in which the king's 
arms triumphed, and his three sons were slain. 

The victory over his sons brought but little peace to Eoch- 
aidh; for the men of Connacht, taking advantage of his weak- . 
ened condition after it, revolted against him ; and to overcome 
their opposition he set up his daughter Meav as Queen of Con- 
nacht, and gave her in marriage to Ailill, a powerful chief of 
that province, and son of Conrach, a former king — the same 
Conrach who built tlie royal residence of Rath CruachanS^^ 
Ailill died soon after, and M6av finding herself a young widow, 

(a) xhe remidns of the Rath of Craachan are still to be seen, near Carrlck- 
on-Shannon, in the modern county of Koscommou. 



LECT. n. and an independent queen, proceeded to exercise her own right 

^^^^ ^^ and taste in the selection of a new husband ; and with this view 

tho Tain Bo shc made a royal proirress into Leinster, where Ross Ruadh was 

Chuaiiipu. ^Q^ king, residing at the residence of the Leinster kings, at 

Naas. Meav there selected, from the princes of the court, the 

king's younger son, who bore the same name as her preWous 

husband, Aiiill, and whom she married and made king-consort of 

her province. 

Their union was happy, and Meav became the mother of 
many sons, and of one daughter. 

One day, however (as the story runs), a dispute arose between 
Queen Meav and her husbaud about their respective wealth 
and treasures, — for all women at this time had their private 
fortunes and dowries secured to them in marriage. This dis- 
pute led them to an actual comparison of their various kinds 
of property, to determine which of them had tlie most and 
the best. There were compared before them then (says the 
tale) all their wooden and their metal vessels of value; and 
they were found to be equal. There were brought to diem 
their finger rings, their clasps, their bracelets, their thumb 
rings, their diadems, and their gorgets of gold ; and they were 
found to be equal. There were brought to them their gar- 
ments of crimson, and blue, and black, and green, and yellow, 
and mottled, and white, and streaked; and thev were foimd 
to be equal. There were brought before them their great flocks 
of sheep, from greens and lawns and plains; and they were 
found to be equal. There were brouglit before them their 
steeds, and their studs, from pastures and from fields ; and they 
were found to be equal. There were brought before them their 
great herds of swine, from forests, from deep glens, and from 
solitudes ; their herds and their drovqs of cows were brought 
before them from the forests and most remote solitudes of the 
province ; and on counting and comparing tliem they were found 
to be equal in number and in excellence. But tliere was found 
among Ailill's herds a young bull, which had been calved by 
one of Meav s cows, and which, " not deeming it honourable to 
be under a woman's control", went over and attached himself to 
AiUll s herds. The name of tliis fine animal was Finnbheannach 
or the White-homed; and it was found that the queen had 
not among her herds one to match him. This was a matter of 
deep disappointment to her. She immediately ordered Mac 
Roth, her cliief courier, to her presence, and asked him if he 
knew where a young bull to match tlie Finnbheannach, or 
White-homed, could be found among the five pro\inces of 
Erinn. Mac Roth answered that he knew where there was a 


better and a finer bull, namely in the possession of Dare, son of lect. n. 

Fachtna, in the Cantred of Cuailgn(S and province of Ulster, 

and that his name was the Donn CkuailgnS, or Brown [Bull] of the mn bo 

Cuailgne. Go thou, then, said Meav, with a request to Dare ^*"^''J^^- 

fifom me, for the loan of the Donn Chuailgni for my herds for 

one year, and tell him that he shall be well repaid for his loan ; 

that he shall receive fifty heifers and the Donn Chuailgni back 

at the expiration of that time. And you may make another 

proposition to him, said the queen, namely, that should the 

people of the district object to his lending us the Donn Chuailgni, 

he may come himself with his bull, and that he shall have the 

full extent of his own territory given him of the best lands in 

Magh Ai [Plains of Roscommon] , a chariot worth thrice seven 

cumals (or sixty-three cows), and my future friendship. 

The courier set out with a company of nine subordinates, and 
in due time anived in Cuailgne and delivered his message to 
Dari Mac Fachtna, 

Dar^ received hun in a true spirit of hospitality, and on learn- 
ing his errand, consented at once to accept tlie terms. He then 
sent the courier and his company into a separate part of his 
establishment, fiimishing them abundantly wiui tlie best of food 
and drink that his stores could supply. 

In the course of the night, and when deep in their cups, one 
of the Connacht couriers said to another : It is a truth that the 
man of this house is a good man, and it is very good of him to 
grant to us, nine messengers, what it would be a great work for 
the other four great provinces of Erinn to take by force out of 
Ulster, namely the I)onn Chv^iilgni, Then a tliird courier in- 
terposed and said that little thanks were due to Dare, because 
if he had not consented fireely to give the Donn Chuailgni, he 
should be compelled to do so. 

At this moment Dare's chief steward, accompanied by a man 
laden with food and another with drink, entered ; and overhear- 
ing the vaunt of the third courier, flew into a passion and cast 
down their meat and drmk before them without inviting them 
to partake of it ; after which he repaired to his master and re- 
ported to him what he had heard. Dar^ swore by his gods 
that they should not have the Donn Chuailgni^ either by con- 
sent or by force. 

The couriers appeared before Dare early on the following 
morning and requested the fulfilment of his promise ; but he 
made answer that if it had been a practice of his to punish cou- 
riers for their impertinence, not one of them should depart alive 
from him. The couriers returned to their mistress to Rath 
Cruachan, the royal palace of the kings of Connacht. •On his 




LECT.n. arrival Mac Roth related to Meav the issue of his embassy and 
Accoi nt of ^^^ cause of its failure ; upon whicli Meav took up the words 
the Tdin Bo of her boastful messenger, and said that as Dare had not granted 
*** ^" ' the request freely, he should be comjx?lled to do so by force. 

Meav accordingly immediately summoned her sons to her 
presence, as well as the seven sons of Magach^ her relatives, with 
all their forces and followers. She also invited the men of Muns- 
ter and Leinster to join her cause, and take vengeance on the 
Ulstermen for the many wrongs which they had of old inflicted 
on them. There was besides at this time a large body of exiled 
Ulstermen in Meav s service, namely, those who had abandoned 
Conor after his treachery to the sons of Ulsneach. This body 
of brave men, amounting to filteen hundred, was under the lea- 
dership of Fergus Mac Koigh and Conors own son, Cormac 
Conloingeas, or the Exile. 

All these forces met at Cruachain; and after consulting her 
Druid, and a Bean sidhe (pron: nearly *' banshee"), ^''^^ who ap- 

g eared to her, Meav set out at the head of her troops, crossed the 
hannon at Athlone, and marched through ancient Meath, till she 
had arrived at the place now called Kells (within a few miles of 
the borders of the modem county of Louth, in Ulster), where she 
encamped her army. Meavs consort, Aihll, and tlieir daughter, 
Finnabhair (the Fairbrowed), accompanied the expedition. 
When they had encamped for the nitj-jit, the queen in\4ted all 
the leaders of the army to feast with her, and in the course of 
the evening contrived to enter into a private conversation with 
each of the most brave and powerful amongst them, exhortig 
them to valour and fidelity in her cause, and secretly promising 
to each the hand of her beautiful daughter in marnage. So far 
the plot of the tale as regards Queen iNIeav s movements. 

C«^ The word beAti p-fie (literally, "woman of the fairy mansions*'), meant a 
Woman from the fjiry man:?ions of the Hills, or the land Iinmurtality. In other 
words, it meant, according to the anciont kpfcndary bt lief, a ^^'onlan of that 
Tvath De Daw'xnn race which preceded tlie Milesians, and which, on their con- 
quest by the latter, were believed to have retiretl from this life to enjoy an in- 
visible immortality in the liills, fountains, lakes, and islands of Eiinn, where 
it wafl reported they are to remain till the last Judgment. From this state of 
existence they were of old beheved to be able to reappear at pleasure in the 
ordinary forms of men and women; and this ancient behef respecting the 
Thiath De Daruinn (whose sudden disappearance from our ancient history 
Beems to have been only accounted for in this manner) still hnpers among the 
people of modern Ireland, in the form of the superstitious reverence for what 
they now call the *' Fairies" or " Go<xl People'. Some acx?ount of what they 
were anciently believed to be will be found in the Tripartite Life of St. 
Patrick. A curious example of their appearance, as introduced in our ancient 
literature, occurs also in the tale of "I'he S ck-bcd of CuchuUainn", printed 
in the second number of the Atlantis, for July, 1858.— [See also Appendix, 
No. XXI J 


Although the Ulstermen had sufficient notice of the approach lect. n. 
of such a formidable invasion, they exhibited no siffns of de- . ^ , 

/,. . mi ••!•'• • 1'° • Account of 

tensive preparation. This singular inaction on their part is ac- the Tdin bo 
counted for in another talc so often spoken of as the Ceasnaidh- ^***''^"^- 
ean Uladh, or Child-birth-debility of the Ultonians. 

It happened that Meav's expedition into Louth occurred at 
the very time that Conor and all the warriors of Emania were 
suffering imder the effects of the curse described in that tale, so 
that the border lay quite unguarded except by one youth. This 
youth was the renowned Cuchulainn^ whose patrimony was the 
first part of Ulster that the hostile forces entered upon, and 
within it the owner of the Donn Chuailgni resided. 

This part of the tale relates many wonderful and various 
stories of Cuchulainn's youthful achievements, which compli- 
cate it to no small extent, but on the other hand, make no small 
addition to its interest. 

Cuchulainn confronts the invaders of his province, demands 
single combat, and conjures his opponents by the laws of Irish 
chivalry (the Fir comhlainn) not to advance farther until they 
conquered him. This demand, in accordance with the Irish 
laws of warfare, is granted ; and then the whole contest is re- 
solved into a succession of single combats, in each of which 
Cuchidainn was victorious. 

Soon, however, Meav, impatient of this slow mode of pro- 
ceeding, broke through the compact with Cuchulainn, marcned 
forward herself at the head of a section of her army, and 
burned and ravaged the province up to the very precmcts of 
Conor's palace at Emania. She had by this time secured tlie 
Donn Ckuailgn6; and she now marched her forces back into 
Meath and encamped at Clartha (pron: " Clarha'*, — now Clare 
Castle in the modern county of Westmeath). 

In the meantime the Ulstermen having recovered from the 
temporary state of debility to which the curse above alluded to 
had subjected them, Conor summoned all the chiefs of his pro- 
\'ince to muster their forces and join his standard in the pursuit 
of the army of Connacht. Tliis done, they marched in separate 
bodies, under their respective chiefs, and took up a position in 
the immediate neighbourhood of Meav's camp. The march 
and array of these troops, including Cuchulainn's, — ^the distin- 
guisliing descriptions ol their horses, chariots, arms, ornaments, 
and vesture,— even their size, and complexion, and the colour 
of their hair, — are described with great vividness and power. 
In the story the description of all these details is delivered by 
Mdav's courier, Mac Roth, to her and her husband ; and the 
recognition of the various chiefs of Ulster as they arrived at 



LECT. n. Conor s camp is ascribed to Fergus Mac Roigh, the exiled 

Personal UlstcT princc already spoken of. I may quote the following 

description short possafjes, merely as specimens of the kind of description 

chiefunthe thus giv^u by Mac Roth to Meav and Ailill: 

Tdui^Bo^^ "There came anotlier company there, said Mac Roth; no 

chuaiigni. champion could be found more comely than he who leads them. 

His hair is of a deep red yellow, and bushy ; his forehead broad 

and his face tapering ; he has sparkling blue laughing eyes ; — 

a man regularly formed, tall and tapering ; thin red lips ; pearly, 

shiny teeth ; a wliite, smooth body. A red and white cloak 

flutters about him ; a golden broocn in that cloak, at his breast ; 

a shirt of white, kingly linen, with gold embroidery at his 

skin ; a wliite shield, with gold fastenings at his shoulder ; a 

gold-hilted long sword at his left side ; a long, sharp, dark green 

spear, toirether with a short, sharp spear, with a rich band and 

car^-ed silver rivets in his hand. Who is he, O Fergus, said 

Ailill? The man who has come there is in himself half a 

battle, the valour of combat, the fury of the slaughter-hoimd. 

His is Reochaid Mac Fatheman (pron : " Faheman"), from 

Rigdonn [or Rachlainn], in the north [said Fergus".] — [See 

original in Appendix, No. XXII.] And again : — 

" Another company have come to the same hill, at Slemain 
ofMeath, said Mac Roth, with a long-faced, dark complexioned 
champion at their head ; [a champion] with black hair and long 
limbs, i.e.^ long legs; wearing a red shaggy cloak wrapped 
round him, and a white silver brooch in the cloak over his 
heart ; a linen shirt to his skin ; a blood-red shield with devices 
at his shoulder ; a silver-hilted sword at his left side ; an elbowed 
gold-socketed spear to liis shoulder. Who is he, O Fergus? 
said Ailill to Fergus. We know liim well indeed, said Fergus ; 
he is Fergna, the son of Finncona, chief of Burach, in Ulster".^**^ 
— [See original in Appendix, No. XXIII.]' 

And again : " Another company have come to the same hill in 
Sleamain of Meath, said Mac Roth. It is wild, and imUke the 
other companies. Some are with red cloaks; others with 
hght blue cloaks ; others with deep blue cloaks ; others with 
green, or blay, or white, or yellow cloaks, bright and flut- 
teiing about tliem. There is a young red-freckled lad, with 

(«5) And here, lest it may be thought that these gorgeous descriptionB of arms 
and ornaments are but idle creations of the poet or the Seanchaidhe, drawn firom 
his imagination alone, I may recommend such of my hearers as are doubtful or 
sceptical on these points to visit and inspect for themselves the rich and beau- 
tiful collection of the Royal Irish Academy ; when they will find that no pen 
could do justice to the exquisite workmanship, the graceful design, and delicate 
finish of those unrivalled reUcs of Ancient Irish Art, of wliich the best modem 
imitations fall so immeasurably short. 


a crimson cloak, in tlieir midst; a golden brooch in tliat lect. n. 
cloak at his breast ; a shirt of kingly linen, with fastenings 
of red gold at liis skin ; a white shield with hooks of red gold legendary 
at his shoulder, faced with §old, and with a golden rim ; 151^ of *" 
a small gold-hilted sword at his side ; a light, sharp, shining J^^" ^ 
spear to his shoulder. Who is he, my dear Fergus ? said Aihll. 
I don't remember, indeed, said Fergus, having left any such per- 
sonages as these in Ulster, when leaving it, — and 1 can only 
guess that they are the young princes and nobles of Tara, led by 
Ere, the son of Conors daughter Feidilim Nimchruthach^ [or 
' of the ever-new form'], and of Carbry Niafear [the king of 
Tara"]. — [See original in Appendix, No. XXIV.] 

With descriptions like these, more or less picturesque, the 
whole tale abounds. The most remarkable of these, but it is 
too long for insertion here, is that of Cuchulainn, his chariot, 
his horses, and his charioteer, at the battle of Ath Firdiadh, 
where he killed Ferdiadh in single combat ; a circumstance from 
which the place has derived its name of -4^A Firdiadh, or Fer- 
diad s Ford (pronoimced Ardee), in the modem county of Louth. 

The armies of Queen Meav and Conor, her former husband, at 
length met in battle at the hill of Gairech, some distance south- 
east of Athlone, where the Ulstermen routed their enemies, and 
drove them in disorder over the Shannon into Connacht. M^av, 
however, had taken care to secure her prize, the Donn Chu- 
ailgnS^ by despatching him to her palace, at Cruachain, before 
the final battle ; and thus, notwithstanding the loss of numbers 
of her best champions and warriora, she congratulated herself 
on having gained the two greatest objects of her expedition, 
namely, the possession of the Donn Chiuiilgni, and the chas- 
tisement of Conor, her former husband, and his proud Ulster- 
men, at the very gates of his palace at Emania. . 

This wild tale does not, however, end here ; for it gravely 
informs us that when the Dojin Chuailgni found himself in a 
strange country, and among strange herds, he raised such a loud 
bellowing as had never before been heard in the province of 
Connacht ; that on hearing those unusual sounds, Aillirs bull, the 
Finnhheannach or White-homed, knew that some strange and 
formidable foe had entered his territory ; and that he immediately 
advanced at full speed to the point from which they issued, where 
he soon arrived in the presence of his noble enemy. The sight 
of each other was the signal of battle. In the poetic language 
of the tale, the province rang with the echoes of their roaring, 
the sky was darkened by the sods of earth they threw up wim 
their feet and the foam that flew from their mouths; faint- 
hearted men, women, and children hid themselves in caves, 


LFCT. n. caverns, and clefts of tlie rocks ; whilst even the most veteran 
Historical ^^^riors but darcd to view the combat from the neighbouring 
vahieofthe hills and eminences. The Finnbheannach^ or White-homed, 
of Vhrrdiir at len^h gave way, and retreated towards a certain pass which 
aiigr!i*' opcncd into the plain in which the battle raged, and where six- 
teen warriors bolder than the rest had planted themselves ; but so 
rapid was the retreat, and the pursuit, tnat not only were all these 
trampled to the giound, but they were biuied several feet in it 
The Donn Chuail(jne, at la^t, coming up with his opponent, 
raised him on his horns, ran off with hun, passed the gates of 
Meav s palace, tossing and shaking him as he went, imtil at last 
he shattered lum to pieces, droppmg his disjointed members as 
he went along. And wherever a part fell, that place retained 
the name of Uiat joint ever after. And thus it was (we are told) 
Xh?it A th Luaiji, now Athlone, which was before called Ath 
Afdr, or the Great Ford, received its present name from the 
FinnbheannacKs Luan^ or loin, having been dropped there. 

The Donn Chuaihjniy after ha\4ng shaken his enemy in this 
manner from his horns, returned into his own coimtry, but in 
such a frenzied state of excitement and fury, that all fled every- 
where at his approach. He faced directly to his old home; 
but the people of the baiU or hamlet fled, and hid themselves 
behind a huge mass of rock, which his madness transformed 
into the shape of another bull; so that coming with all his 
force against it he dashed out his brains, and was killed. 

I have dwelt, perhaps rather tediously, on the history of this 
strange tale ; but one of the objects of this course of Lectures 
is to give to the student of the Gacdhlic language an idea of 
the nature of some of the coimtless ancient compositions con- 
tained in it ; and notwithstanding the extreme wildness of the 
legend of the Bidl, I am not acquainted with any tale in the 
whole range of our literature, in which he will find more of 
valuable details concerning general and local history ; more of 
description of the manners and customs of the people; of the 
druidical and fairy influence supposed to be exercised in the 
affairs of men ; of the laws of Irish chivalry and honour ; of 
the standards of beauty, morality, valour, truth, and fidelity, 
recognized by the people of old ; of the regal power and dig- 
nity of the monarch and the provincial kings, as well as mucn 
concerning the division of the country into its local dependencies ; 
lists of its chieftains and chieftaincies ; many valuable topogra- 
phical names ; the names and kinds of articles of dress and or- 
nament ; of miUtary weapons ; of horses, chariots, and trap- 
pings ; of leechcraft, and ol medicinal plants and springs ; as well 


as instances of, perhaps, eveij occurrence that could be supposed lect. n, 
to happen in ancient Irish lue : all of these details of the utmost 
value to the student of history, even though mixed up with any quity of the 
amount of the marvellous or incredible in poetical traditions. ^**""»«»»- 

The chief actors in this warfare are all well-known and un- 
doubted historical characters, and are to be met with not only 
in our ancient tales, but in our authentic annals also. 

Tighemach (the most credited in our days of all our an- 
nalists) mentions the Tdin B6 Chuailgn^, and gives the age of 
Cuchulainn as seventeen at the time he followed the Tdin, which 
is calculated by O'Flaherty to have taken place about a.d. 39. — 
[See Appendix, No. XaV.J 

As I have already stated, this tale may be traced back to the 
first record to which we find the name of Cuilmenn attached, but 
of which we have now no means of fixing the precise date, 
any more than the nature and character of its other contents. 

I have ventured to assign the compilation of the Cuilmenn, or 
Great Book of Skins, to an earlier date than that of the Saltair of 
Tara, which was compiled about the middle of the third, and 
the Cin Drama Snechta, which has been traced to the close of 
the fourth or beginning of the fifth century ; and for two rea- 
sons, among many others. The first is, that the manner in 
which the Cuilmenn is spoken of, in the time of Senchann and 
Saint Colum Cille, imphes a belief on their part that the tale 
of the Tdin had been written, in an authentic form, either in 
a separate volume, or into this book, at or immediately after the 
occurrence of the events so graphically narrated in it ; and the 
fact, as related, of Saint Ciaran writing the recovered version 
of it, no matter from what source it was obtained at the time, 
on the skin of his pet cow, shows that this was done with the 
clear intention of handing it down to posterity as nearly as 
possible in the same form as that in which tradition had taught 
them to beUevc it had existed in the Cuilmenn. 

The second reason is, that, from the part which is ascribed to 
Fergus in the conduct of the expedition, the frequent mention 
in the tale of his reading the Ogham writings, and using their 
characters himself, and the pretended revelation of it at his grave, 
to Seanchan's pupil, in the one version, as well as the recovery 
of it, according to another account, at a great meeting of poets 
and ecclesiastics, said to have taken place at his grave, it appears, 
to me at least, that there is sufficient ground to warrant the con- 
jecture, that in the times of Seanchan and Saint Colum Cille, it 
was generally believed that Fergus was the original writer of 
the tale, that it had been written by him, or by some person of 
his time, into a great book, and that this book was at some sub- 



Of the 
Salt^is ow 

LECT. n. sequent period carried out of the country ; and this, as we have 
said before, probably may have taken place in the early Chris- 
tian times. It is also not impossible that it was followed by the 
owner or keeper of it, who, from his being called a Saoi, that is, 
a Doctor or Professor in learning, was probably, it may be sup- 
posed, converted to Christianity, and went into Italy, as many 
certainly did in those times, caiTying with him the only copy 
or copies then in existence. It would be curious to find tins 
ancient book still existing in some neglected comer of the 
Vatican, or of one of the other great Libraries of Italy. 

In the first lectimi (to pass to the next of our oldest lost books), 
we partly considered the history of that very ancient record, now 
lost, known as the Saltair of Tara. It was stated that its 
composition is referred to the period of the reign of Cormac 
Mac Art {Connac Mac Airt, or son of ^r^), and that by some 
this king was actually supposed to have been its author. 

To give full value to all the evidence we possess as to the 
nature of this record, the time at which it was said to have been 
composed, and its reputed author, it will be necessary for us to 
enter into a brief historical account of the period, and to give 
some particulars about this celebrated prince ; from which I con- 
ceive It will be fully evident, that to attribute the composition 
of the Saltair to the time of Cormac, or even to state that he was 
its author, would be to make no extravagant assiunption. 
Of King The character and career of Connac Mac Art, as a governor, 

Cormac ifoc ^ "vvarrior, a philosopher, and a judge deeply versed in the laws 
which he was called on to administer, have, if not from his own 
time, at least from a very remote period, formed a fruitful subject 
for panegyric to the poet, the historian, and the legislator. 

C5iir oldest and most accredited annals record liis \'ictories and 
miUtary glories ; our historians dwell with raptiu-e on his honour, 
his justice, and the native dignity of his character; our writers 
of historical romance make him the hero of many a tale of 
curious adventure ; and our poets find in his personal accom- 
phshments, and in the regal splendour of his reign, inexhaus- 
tible themes for their choicest numbers. 

The poet Maelmura, of Othna, who died a.d. 844, styles him 
Cormac Ceolach, or the Musical, in allusion to his refined and 
happy mind and disposition. Cinaeth (or Kenneth) O'Harti- 
gan (who died a.d. 973) gives a glowing description of the 
magnificence of Cormac and of his palace at Tara. And Cuan 
OXochain, quoted in the fonner lecture, and who died a.d. 
1024, is no less eloquent on the subject of Cormac's mental 
and personal qualities and the glories of his reign. He also, 
in the poem wliich has been already quoted, describes the con- 


dition and disposition of the ruins of the principal edifices at lbct. n . 
Tara, as they existed in his time ; for, even at this eajrly period 
(1024), the royal Tara was but a ruin. Flann, of Saint BuitMs King**Sonna< 
Monastery, who died a.d. 1056 (the greatest, perhaps, of the ^^ ^*''*' 
scholars, historians, and poets of his time), is equally fluent in 
praise of Gormac as a king, a warrior, a scholar, and a judge. 

Cormac's father. Art, chief monarch of Erinn, was killed in 
the Battle of Magh Mucruimhi that is, the Plain of MucruimM 
(pron: " Mucrivy") about a.d. 195, by Mac Con, who was the 
son of his sister. This Mac Con was a Munster prince, who 
had been banished out of Erinn by Oilill Oluim, Kmg of Mun- 
ster ; after which, passing into Britain and Scotland, he returned 
in a few years at the head of a large army of foreign adven- 
turers, commanded chiefly by Benni Brit, son of the King of 
Britain. They sailed roimd by the south coast of Ireland, and 
landed in the Bay of Gal way ; and, being joined there by some 
of Mac Con's Insh adherents, they overran and ravaged the 
country of West Connacht. Art, the monarch, immediately 
mustered all the forces that he could command, and marched 
into Connacht, where he was joined by Mac Con's seven (or 
six) step-brothers, the sons of Oilill Olum, with the forces of 
Mimster. A battle ensued, as stated above, on the Plain of 
Mucruimhe (between Athenree and Gralway), in which Art 
was killed, leaving behind him an only son, Cormac, usually dis- 
tinguished as Cormac Mac Airt, that is, Cormac the son of Art. 

On the death of his uncle Art, Mac Con assumed the 
monarchy of Erinn, to the prejudice of the young prince Cor- 
mac, who was still in his boyhood, and who was forced to lie con- 
cealed for the time among his mother's friends in Connacht. 

Mac Con's usurpation, and his severe rule, disposed his subjects 
after some time to wish for his removal ; and to that end young 
Cormac, at the solicitation of some powerful friends of his father, v 

appeared suddenly at Tara, where his person had by this time 
ceased to be known. One day, we are told, he entered the 
jud^ent hall of the palace at the moment that a case of royal 
privilege was brought before the king, Mac Con, for adj udication. 
For the king in ancient Erinn was, in eastern fashion, believed 
to be gifted with peculiar wisdom as a judge among his people ; 
and it was a part of his duty, as well as one of the chief pnvileges 
of his prerogative, to give judgment in any cases of diflGlculty 
brought before him, even though the litigants might be among 
the meanest of his subjects, and the subject of litigation of the 
smallest value. The case is thus related : Certain sheep, the pro- 
perty of a certain widow residing near Tara, had strayed into the 
queen's private lawn, and eaten of its grass; they were captured 

of Cormac 


tECT. n. ty some of the household officers, and the case was brought be- 
fore the king for judgment. The kin^, on hearing the case, con- 
deSptlon denmed the sheep to be forfeited, x oung Connac, however, 
' hearing this sentence, exclaimed that it was unjust ; and declared 

that as the sheep had eaten but the fleece of the land, the most 
that they ought to forfeit should be their own fleeces. This 
view of the law appeared so wise and reasonable to the people 
around, that a murmur of approbation ran through the hall. 
Mac Con started from his seat and exclaimed : " That is the 
judgment of a king" ; and, immediately recognizing the youthful 
prince, ordered him to be seized; but Cormac succeeded in 
effecting his escape. The people, then, having recognized their 
rightful chief, soon revolted against the monarch ; upon which 
Mac Con was driven into Munster, and Cormac assumed the 
government at Tara. And thus commenced one of the most 
brilliant and important reigns in Irish history. 

The following description of Connac, from the Book of Bal« 
lymote (142, b.b.), gives a very vivid picture of the person, man- 
ners, and acts of this monarch, which it gives however on the 
authority of the older Book of Uachonghhail; and, even though 
the language is often high-coloured, it is but a picturesque 
clothing for actual facts, as we know from other sources, — [See 
original in Appendix, No. XXVI.] 

" A noble and illustrious king assumed the sovereignty and 
rule of Erinn, namely, Connac, the grandson of Conn of the 
Hundred Battles. iThe world was full of all goodness in his 
time ; there were fruit and fatness of the land, and abundant pro- 
duce of the sea, with peace, and ease, and happiness, in his time, 
There were no killings nor plunderings in his time, but every 
one occupied his lands in happiness. 

" The nobles of Erinn assembled to drink the banquet of 
Tara, with Cormac, at a certain time. These were the kings who 
were assembled at that feast, namely, Fergus Duhhdeadach (of 
the black teeth), and Eochaidh Gunnat, the two kings of Ulster; 
Dunlang, son of Enna Nia, king of Leinster ; Cormac Cas, son 
of Ailill Oluim, — bjiA Fiacha Muilleathan^ son of Eoghan Mor, 
the two kings of Munster ; Nia 3f6r, the son of Lngaidh Firtri^ 
Cormac's brother by his mother, and Eochaidh, son of Conall, 
the two kings of Connacht; Oengus of the poisoned spear, king 
of Bregia (East Meath) ; and Feradhach the son of Asal, son of 
Conor the champion, king of Meath. 

" The manner in which fairs and gi^eat assemblies were at- 
tended by the men of Erinn, at this time, was : each king wore 
his kingly robe upon him, and his golden helmet on his head ; 
for, they never put their kingly diadems on, but in the field of 
battle only. 



"Magnificently did Connac come to this great assembly ; for lect. n. 
no man, his equal in beauty, had preceded him, excepting Co- " ~ 
nairii iflor^ son of Edersgel, or Conor, son of Cathbadh (pron : Airt at lara. 
nearly " Caa-fah"), or Aengus, son of the Daghda. Splendid, 
indeed, was Cormac's appearance in that assembly. His hair 
was slightly curled, and of golden colour : a scarlet shield with 
engraved ae\accs, and golden hooks, and clasps of silver: a 
wide-folding purple cloak on him, with a gem-set gold brooch 
over his breast ; a gold torque around his neck ; a white-collared 
shirt, embroidered with gold, upon him ; a girdle with golden 
buckles, and studded with precious stones, around him; two 
golden net- work sandals with golden buckles upon him ; two 
spears with golden sockets, and many red bronze rivets, in his 
hand; while he stood in the full glow of beauty, without 
defect or blemish. You would think it was a sliowcr of pearls 
that were set in his mouth ; his lips were rubies ; his symme- 
trical body was as white as snow; his cheek was like the 
mountain-ash berry ; his eyes were Uke the sloe ; his brows and 
eye lashes were hke the sheen of a blue-black lance. 

" This, then, was the shape and form in which Cormac went 
to this great assembly of the men of Erinn. And authors say 
that this was the noblest convocation ever held in Erinn before 
the Christian Faith ; for, the laws and enactments instituted in 
that meeting were those which shall prevail in Erinn for ever. 

" The nobles of Erinn proposed to make a new classification of 
the people, according to their various mental and material qualifi- 
cations ; both kings and ollamhs (or chiefs of professions), and 
druids, and farmers, and soldiers, and all different classes like- 
wise ; because they were certain, that, whatever regulations should 
be ordered for Erinn in tliat assembly, by the men of Eiinn, 
would be those which would live in it for ever. For, from the 
time that Amergen Gluingeal (or of the White Knee), the Fili 
(or Poet) and one of the chiefs of the Milesian colonists, deli- 
vered the first iudgment in Erinn, it was to the Files alone that 
belonged the right of pronouncing judgments, imtil the dispu- 
tation of the Two Sages, Ferceirtni the Fili^ and NeidhS^ son 
of Adhna, at Emania, about the beautiful mantle of the chief 
FU^j Adhna, who had lately died. More and more obscure to 
the people, were the words in which these two Fil^s discussed 
and decided their dispute ; nor could the kings or the other Filh 
understand them. Concobar (or Conor), and the other princes, at 
that time present at Emania, said that the disputation and deci- 
sion could be understood only by the two parties themselves, for 
that they did not understand tnem. It is manifest, said Concobar : 
all men shall have share in it from this day out for ever, but they 



LECT. n. [the jPt'/es] shall have their hereditary judgment out of it; of 
" what all others require, every man may take his share of it. 
cormlc Mac Judgment was then taken from the Files, except their inheritance 
^^''^ of it, and several of the men of Erinn took their part of the judg- 

ment; such as the judgments of -EbcAaic?A, the son o£ Luchta; 
and the judgments of Fachtna^ the son of Senchadh; and the 
(apparently) false judgments of Caradniadh Teiscthe; and the 
judgments of Morann, the son of Maen ; and the judgments 
of £oghan, the son o£ Durrthacht [\du^ ofFameyJ; and the 
judgments of Doet of Neimthenn^ and the judgments of Brigh 
Ambui [daughter of Senchad/i] ; and the judgments of Dian- 
cecht [the Tuath De Dandnn Doctor] in matters relating to 
medical doctors. Although tliese were thus first ordered at 
this time, the nobles of the men of Erinn (subsequently) insis- 
ted on judgment and eloquence (advocacy) being allowed to 
persons according to rank in the Bretlia Nemheadh (laws of 
ranks); and so each man usurped the profession of another 
again, until this great meeting assembled around Cormac. 
They then again separated the professors of every art froim 
each other in that great meeting, and each of them was or- 
dained to his legitimate profession". 

And thus when Cormac came to the sovereignty of Erinn, 
he found that Conor s regulations had been disregarded ; and 
this was what induced the nobles to propose to him a new 
organization, in accordance with the advancement and progress 
of the people, from the former period. And this Cormac did ; 
for he ordered a new code of laws and regulations to be drawn 
up, extending to all classes and professions. He also put the 
state or court regulations of the Teach Midhchuarta^ or Great 
Banqueting House of Tai-a, on a new and permanent footing; 
and revived obsolete tests and ordeals, and instituted some 
important new ones ; thus making the law of Testimony and 
Evidence as perfect and safe as it could be in such times. 

If we take this, and various other descriptions of Cormac s 
character as a man, a king, a scholar, a judge, and a warrior, 
into account, we shall see that he was no ordinary prince ; and 
that if he had not impressed the nation with a full sense of his 
great superiority over his predecessors and those who came 
after him, there is no reason why he should have been specially 
selected from all the rest of the line of monarchs, to be made 
above all the possessor of such excellences. 

Such a man could scarcely have carried out his various be- 
hests, and the nimierous provisions of his comprehensive enact- 
ments, without some written medium. And it is no unwar- 
rantable presumption to suppose that, either by his own hand, 


or, at least, in his own time, by his command, his laws were user, p. 
committed to writing ; and when we possess very ancient tes- ^^ j^^^^ 
timony to this effect, I can see no reason for rejecting it, or and legai 
even for casting a doubt upon the statement. King COTmac 

It is not probable that any laws or enactments forged at a ^^ ^^*' 
later period, could be imposed on a people who possessed in 
such abundance the means of testing the genuineness of their 
origin, by recourse to other sources of information; and the 
same arguments which apply in the case of the Saltair of Tara, 
may be used in regard to another work assigned to Cormac, of 
which mention will be presently made. Nor is this all, but 
there is no reason whatever to deny that a book, such as the 
Saltair of Tara is represented to have been, was in existence at 
Tara a long time before Cormac's reign ; and that Cormac only 
altered and enlarged it to meet the circumstances of his own times. 

These bards and druids, of which our ancient records make 
such frequent mention, must have had some mode of perpetuating 
their arts, else it would have been impossible for those arts to 
have been transmitted so faithfully and fully as we know they 
were. It is true that the student in the learning of the File is 
said to have spent some twelve years in study, before he was pro- 
noimced an adept ; and this may be supposed to imply that the 
instruction was verbal ; but we have it from various writers, even 
as late as the sixteentii and seventeenth centuries, that it was 
customary with the medical, law, and civil students of these 
times, to read the classics and study their professions for twenty 

All this is indeed but presumptive evidence of the possession 
of writmg by the Irish in the time of Cormac ; but, from other 
sources we have reason to believe that the art existed here long 
antecedent to his reign : this subject is, however, of too great 
extent and importance to admit of its full discussion at present. 

There still exists, I should state to you, a Law Tract, attri- 
buted to Cormac. It is called the Book of Acaill ; and is always 
found annexed to a Law Treatise by Cennfaelad the learned, 
who died in a.d. 677. The following preface always prefixed 
to this first work gives its history. — [See original in Appendix, 

"The locus^^^ of the Book was Aicill (or Acaill^ pron: 

(>«> It was always the habit of the old Irish writers to state four circum- 
stances concerning the composition of their works : the place at which they 
were written (or the locus of the work, according to the form here used),— the 
date, — the name of the author, — and the occasion or circumstances which sug- 
gested the undertaking. These forms were adhered to by writers using tlie 
native language down even to the time of the Four Masters, as will be seen 
in a subsequent Lecture (VIII.), on the various works of the O'Clerys. 


LECT. II. Akill*), near Teamair [Tara]; and the time of it was the 
Book ^^^ ^^ Cairbri Lifeachair (Cairbre of the Liffey), son of 
ot AcaiiL Cormac, and the person [author] of it was Cormac; and 
the cause of making it was, the blinding of Cormac's eye 
by Aengu8 Gabuaidech (Aengus of the poisoned spear), after 
the abduction of the daughter of Sorar, son of Art Corb, 
by Cellach, the son of Cormac. This Aengus Gabiuxidech 
was an Airi Echta (an avenging chief) at this time, avenging 
the wrongs of his tribe in the territories of Luighni (Leyney) ; 
and he went into the house of a woman there, and forcibly 
drank milk there. " It would be fitter for you", said the wo- 
man, " to avenge your brother's daughter on Cellach, the son of 
Cormac, than to consume my food forcibly". And books do not 
record that he committed any evil upon the woman's person ; but 
he went forward to Teamair; and it was after sunset he reached 
Teamair; and it was prohibited at Teamair to take a champion's 
arms into it after sunset ; but only the arms that happened to 
be in it ; and Aengus took Cormac's Crimall (bloody spear) down 
off its rack (as he was passing in) and gave a tlirust of it into 
Ceallach, son of Cormac, which killed him ; and its angle struck 
Cormac s eye, so that he remained half blmd ; and its heel struck 
in the back of the steward of Teamair, when drawing it out 
of Cellach, and killed him ; and it was prohibited to a kmg 
with a blemish to be in Teamair; and Cormac was sent out to 
be cured to Aicill, near Teamair; and Teamar could be seen 
from Aicilli and Aicill could not be seen from Teamar ; and 
the sovereignty of Erinn was (then) given to Cairbre lA/ea- 
chair, the son of Cormac ; and it was men this book was com- 
piled ; and that which is Cormac's share in it is every place where 
"jBZai" (immunity) occurs, and ^^Ameic arafeiser" (my son would 
you know) ; and Cenndfaelad's share is, everything from that 
Of cenf\fiie- Such is the account of this curious tract, as found prefixed to 
'•* all the copies of it that we now know ; and, though the compo- 

sition of this preface must be of a much later date than Cor- 
mac's time, still it bears internal evidence of great antiquity. 

Cormac's book is, as I have observed, always found prefixed 
to the laws compiled by Cennfaelad just mentioned. This 
Cennfaelad had been an Ulster warrior, but, happening to re- 
ceive a fracture of the skull, at the battle of Magh Rath, fought 
A.D. 634, he was carried to be cured, to the house of Bricin^*'^ of 

C*') The reader will please to observe, once for all, that the letter c is in the 
Gaedhlic always pronounced hard, or like the English k; it never has the soft 
sound of an s, even before an e or an i. 


Tuaim Drecaiuy where tlicre were three schools, namely : a Lite- lect. ii. 
rary ^or Classical) school ; a Fenechas, or Law school ; and a ofth booiT 
school of Poetry. And, whilst there, and listening to the instruc- of AtMHi^ 
tions given to the pupils, and the subtle discussions of the schools, 
his memory, which, beiTore, was not very good, became clear 
and retentive, so that whatever he heard in the day (it is re- 
corded) he remembered at night ; and thus, he finally came to 
be a master in the arts of the three schools, reducing what he 
had heard in each to order, and committing it to verse, which 
he first wrote upon slates and tablets, and afterwards in a 
White Book, in verse. The FenechaSj or law part only, of 
this book, is that now found annexed to Cormac's treatise. 
These laws, however, are not in verse now. And, whether the 
laws at present known, in connection with Cennfaeladlis name, 
are of his own composition, or those he leamea in the schools 
here mentioned, is not certain. The explanation of the word 
A icillj as well as the circumstances just mentioned respecting 
Cennfaeladh, occurs in the following passage, in continuation of 
that last quoted. — [See original in Appendix, No. XXVIIL] 

^^Aicill [is derived] from Uch Oil [the Great Lamenta- 
tion], which A (cell, the daughter of Cairbre [Cairbre Niafear^ 
monarch of Erinn], made there, lamenting Ere, the son of 
Cairbre, her brother; and here is a proof of it: — 

" The daughter of Cairbre, that died,<*^ 
And of Feidelm, the ever-blooming, 
Of grief for Ere, beautiful her part, 
Who was slain in revenge of Cuchulainn". 

" Or, it was Aicelly the wife of Ere, son of Cairbre, that died of 
grief for her husband there, when he was killed by Conall Cear- 
nach (in revenge of Cuchulainn) ; and this is a proof of it : — 

" Conall Ceamach, that brought Erc's head 
To the side of Temair, at the third hour ; 
Sad the deed that of it came. 
The breaking of Acaill's noble heart". 

" If there was established law at the time the eric (reparation) 
which was paid for this crime (against Cormac, etc.) — -provided 
it was on free wages^"^ Magh Bregh (Bregia) was held — was the 

(») These two vcnefl are taken from the ancient Dinnsenchus, but there is 
no authority for the second yersion to be found in the copy of that tract, pre- 
seryed in tbe Book of Ballymote. The poem ftom which they are taken, and 
which gives the origin of tlie place called Acaill, was written by Cinaeth or 
Kenneth O'Hartigan, who died a.d. 973, and, consequently, this account, in its 
present state, of the Book of Acaill, was written after the writing of the poem. 

(S9) Free wageB.—ThaX Is, if they had only held their lands and original stock, 



LECT.iL same as if free wages had been given to half of them, and base 
Of th iJook ^^g^s ^ *^® other half, so that one half of them would be in 
of Acttiiu free service, and the other half In base service. 

" If free wages were not on them at all, the eric which should 
be paid there was the same as if free wages had been given to 
the half of them and base wages to the other half, so that half 
of them would be in free service, and the other half in base 

" If there was not established law there, every one's right 
would be according to his strength .^"^ 

" And they ( Aengus's tnbe) left the territory, and they went 
to the Bouth. They are the Deis^ (Decies or Deasys) of Port 
Laeghaire or Port LairgS (Waterford) from that time down. 

" It« (the book's) locus and time, as regards Cormac, so far. 

"In regard to Cennfaelad, however, the locus of [his part of] 
it was Doire Lurain^ and the time of it was the time of [the 
Monarch] Aedh Mac Ainmerech, and its person [i.e. author] 
was Cennfaelad, and the cause of compiling it, his brain of for- 

Stfulness having been extracted from Ccnnfaelad's head after 
ving been cloven in the battle of Magh Rath^'*^ [a.d. 634]. 
" The three victories of that battle were : the defeat of Congal 
Claen, in his falsehood, by Domnall, in his truthfulness ; and 
SuibhnS, the maniac, to become a maniac ; and it is not Suibh- 
nSs becoming a maniac that is (considered) a victory, but all 
the stories and all the poems which he left after him in Erinn ; 
and it was not a victory that his brain of forgetfulness was ex- 
tracted from Cennfaelaia's head, but what he left of noble book 
works after him in Erinn. He had been carried to be cured to 
the house of [St.] Bricin, of Tuaim Drecain, and there were 
three schools in the town, a school of classics, and a school of 

-which was the wages, or rath, on the condition of ccrt^n personal services, and 
the payment of a certain rent every third year, — ^which was called saer-ratK, ot 
free wages, — ^they should be now reduced, one half the tribe, to base wages, 
which amounted to a species of slavery, under which they were forced to pay 
every year what the parties on free wages paid but every third year. And even 
though according to the second clause the lands were not held by them on wages 
at all, but as independent inlieritors (that is, owners owing only an acknow- 
ledgment to the king, with such contributions only as they pleased), which 
they were, being the descendants of Ftacha Suidhe, the brother of Conn of 
the Hundred Battles, and conscqueutly cousins to Cormac himself. — even then 
they were reduced to the state of one half of them becoming free vassals, and 
the other half base vassals, their hereditary title to their lands having beoome 
for ever forfeited. 

cao) There is a most curious and important account of the trial and decision in 
this ancient case, preserved in the ancient Irish Manuscript lately purchased 
in London for the Boyal Irish Academy, through the liberality and fine na- 
tional spirit of the Rev. Dr. Todd, of T.C.D. 

(3i) See The Battle of Magh Rath, edited by John O'Donoran, LL.D., for 
the Irish Archaeological Society ; 1842. 


FenecJias (laws), and a school of Filidheeht (philosophy, poetry, LEcr.n. 
etc.); and everything that he used to hear of what the three of the Book 
schools spoke every day he used to have of clear memory [i.e., otAoaiiL 
perfectly by rote] every night ; and he put a clear thread of 
poetry to them [f.^., put them into verse] ; and he wrote them 
on stones and on tables, and he put them into a vellum-book"/"^ 
The whole of this volume, comprising the parts ascribed to 
the King Cormac, and those said to be Ceimfaelad's, form a 
very important section of our ancient national institutes, known 
as the Brehon Laws ; but it does not, for the reason I before 
alluded to, fall within my province to deal with those laws 
farther on the present occasion. 

(s>^ The latter portion of this passage is somewhat more minutely giyen in 
another MS. version (T.C.D. Library, H. 3. 18. p. 399), as follows :— 

'* And where he was cm>ed was at Tuaim Drecain, at the meeting of the 
three streets, between the houses of the three professors (5ai), namely, a pro- 
fessor of Fenechas, a professor of Filidheeht^ and a professor of Leighenn 
(classics). And all that the three schools taught (or spoke) each day, he had, 
through the sharpness of his intellect, each night ; and so much of it as he 
wished to show, he put into poetical arrangement, and it was written by him 
into white books". [See original in Appendix, No. XXV III.] 



[DeliTRvd Maxell SO, ia&&.] 

Of the synchronisnu of Flann of Monasterboice. Of the CliroDological Poem 
of Gilla Caemhain, Of Tighernach the Annalist. Of the foundation of 
Clonmacnois. The Annals. — I. The Annals of Tighernach. Of the 
Foundation of Emania, and of the Ultonian dynastj. 

In shortly sketching for you some account of our lost books of 
history, and in endeavouring to suggest to you what must have 
been the general state of learning at and before the introduction 
of Christianity by our national Apostle, I have, in fact, opened 
the whole subject of these lectures: the MS. materials existing 
in our ancient language for a real history of Erinn. Let us 
now proceed at once to the consideration of the more important 
branches of those materials ; and, first, of the extent and charac- 
ter of our national annals, and their importance in the study 
of our histonr. 
Of the and- The principal Annals now remaining in the Graedhlic lan- 
entAnnaia. miagc, and of which wc havc any ac^curate knowledge, are 
known as: — the Annals of Tighernach (pron: nearly "Teer- 
nagh") ; — ^the Annals of Senait Mac Manus (a compilation now 
better known as the Annals of Ulster) ; — ^the Annals of Inis Mac 
Nerinn in Loch Ce (erroneously called the Annals of Kihx)- 
nan) ; — the Annals of Innisfallen ; — ^the Annals now known as 
the Annals of Boyle ; — ^the Annals now known as the Annals 
of Connacht ; — ^the Annals oiDun na n-Gall (Donegall), or those 
a of the Four Masters ; — and lastly, the Chronicum Scotorum. 

Besides these we have also the Annals of Clonmacnois, a 
compilation of the same class, which was translated into English 
in 1627, but of which the original is unfortunately not now 
accessible or known to exist. 

With regard to annals in other languages relating to Ireland, 
I need only allude to the Latin Annals of Multifeman, of 
Grace,- of Pembridge, Clyn, etc., published by the L:ish Archaso- 
logical Society. 

At the head of our list I have placed the Annals of Tigher- 
nach, a composition, as we shall presently see, of a very re- 
markable character, whether we take into accoimt the early 
period at which these annals were written, namely, the clo^^ f 
the eleventh century, or the amount of historical research, tlie 


judicious care, and the scholarlike discrimination, which distin- lect. ni. 
guish the compiler. These annals have accordingly been con- or the earlier 
sidered by many to constitute, if not our earlie st. atJgastjaifLpf chronoio- 
t he most imp ortant of our historical records now extant. fiistorilSis. 

How far the arrangement of events and the chronology ob- 
served in most of our annals axe to be ascribed to Tighemach, 
is a matter that cannot now be cleaily determined. It is certain, 
however, tliat there were careful and industrious chroniclers 
and chronologists before his time, with whose works he was 
doubtless well acquainted. 

From a very early period, we find notices of chroniclers and 
historical compilers. 1 have already mentioned the royal his- 
torian, Cormac Mac Art, and also the author of tlie Cin Dromd . 
Sneachta. From the sixth to the eig hth century we meet, 
amongst many others, the names of Amergin Mac Amalgaidh, 
author of the Dinn Seanchas ; Cennfaeladh; and Aengus CHU 
Di, From the year 800 to the year 1000, we find Maolmura 
of Othan ; Cormac Mac Cuileannain; Flann Mac Lonan ; 
Eochaidh O'Flinn ; and Cinaeth or Kennett O'Hartigan. In the 
eleventh century the historical compilers are still more frequent : 
the chief names in this period are, those of Cuan O'Lochain; 
Colman O'Seasnan; Flann Mainistrech, or of the Monastery, 
and Gilla Caemhain. The two latter lived in the same cen- 
tury with Tighemach ; Flann, the professor of St. BuitMs 
Monastery (or Monasterboice), who died a.d. 1056 ; and Gilla 
Caemhain^ a writer who died a.d. 1072, the translator into 
Gaedhlic of Nennius' history of the Britons. Of these, as they 
were contemporaries of Tighemach, it will be necessary to give 
some account, before we proceed to consider more particularly 
the Annals of that author, 

Flann compiled very extensive historical synchronisms, which of the s>ti- 
have been much respected by some of the most able modem Jjann !?mo^ 
writers on early Irish history, such as Ussher, Ware, Father John (xi^cen-*^ 
Lynch (better known as Gratianus Lucius, the well known author tur>). 
of Cambrensis Eversus), O'Flaherty, and Charles O'Conor. 

The synchronisms of Flann go back to the most remote 
periods, and form an excellent abridgment of universal history. 
After synchronizing the chiefs of various lines of the children 
of Adam in the east, the author points out what monarchs of 
the Assyrians, Modes, Persians, and Greeks, and what em- 

gjrors of the Romans, were contemporary with the kings of 
rinn and the leaders of its various early colonists, beginning 
with Ninus, the son of Belus, and coming down to the first of 
the Roman emperors, Julius Cajsar, who was contemporary with 


LECT. m. Eochaidh Feidhlech, a monarch of Erinn who died more than 
Of the syn ^^ * centuiy before the Incarnation of our Lord. The parallel 
ehroniims of lincs are then continued from Julius CaBsar and his Irish con- 
SStCTboiSr temporary Eochaidh Feidhlech, down to the Emperors Theo- 
^ cen- dosius the Third, and Leo the Third, and their contemporary 
Ferghalj son of Maelduin, monarch of Erinn, who was killed 
A.D. 718. 

Flann makes use of the length and periods of the reigns of 
the emperors to illustrate and show the consistency of the 
chronology of the Irish reigns, throughout this long list. 

After this he throws the whole series, from Julius Caesar 
down, into periods of 100 years each, grouping the emperors 
of Rome and the kings of Erinn in each centuiy in the fol- 
lowing manner. Thus, he takes one hundred years, from the 
first year of Julius Caesar to the twelfth year of Claudius. 
Five emperors will be found to have reigned within this time, 
namely, Julius, Octavius, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius. 
The Irish parallel period to this will be found in the one hun- 
dred years from the eighth year of Eochaidh Feidhlech to the 
fifth year of the reign of JLughaidh Riabh Derg, Six mo- 
narchs ruled in Erinn during that term, namely, Eochaidh 
Feidhlech, Eochaidh A iremhy his brother ; Edersgel Mac lar, 
Nuadha Necht, Conairi Mdr, and Lughaidh Riabh Derg. 

A second period of one hundred years, in Flann's computa- 
tions, extends from the second last year of Claudius to the 
eighteenth year of Antoninus Pius. Thirteen emperors reigned 
witliin that time. There were also one hundred years from the 
fifth year of Litghaidh Riabh Derg, monarch of Erinn, to the 
end of the reign of Elim Mac Conrach, and seven monarchs 
governed in that space of time, namely, Conchobhar or Conor, 
Crimthann, CairbrS, Fearadhach, Fiatach, Fiacha, and Elim 
Mac Conrach himself. 

And so Flann continues down to the time of the Emperor 
Leo, and Ferghal Mac Maelduin, King of Erinn, who was killed 
A.D. 718. That portion of the work which carries down the 
synchronisms to JuHus Caesar is next summed up in a poem of 
which there are two copies, one of 1096, and the other of 1220 
lines, intended no doubt to assist the student in committing to 
memory the substance of the synchronisms {Lecain; fol. 20. B6). 
There is another chronological piece of curious interest and 
of very considerable value, which was also probably composed 
by Flann, or at least that portion of it which precedes a.d. 
1056, the year of Flann's death. It comprises a list of the reigns 
of the monarchs of Ireland, with those of the contemporary pro- 
viucial kings, and also of the kings of Scotland. This synchro- 


nological list commences with Laeghairi^ who succeeded to the LECT.m. 
sovereignty in the year of our Lord 429, and it is carried down or the s 
to the death of Muircheartach O'Brien, in 1119, sixty-five years chroniams of 
after Flann's death. Who the continuator of Flann may have SStS^bJi^^ 
been we do not now know. tu^)?^' 

It may be interesting to give the following abstract as a spe- 
cimen of Flann's synchronisms of the kings of Scotland, as it 
shows their connection with the royal lines of Erinn. 

It was, he says, in the year 498 that Fergus M6r and his 
brothers went into Scotland. They were the sons of Ere, the 
son of JEochaidh Muinreamhary whose father was the renowned 
Colla Uais, who, with his brothers, overthrew the Ulster dynasty 
and destroyed the palace of Emania. MuircJiertach Mac Eirc^ 
one of the brothers, was the ancestor of the MacDonnells, Lords 
of the Isles, and of other great families in Scotland. Our tract 
says that from the Battle of Ocha, a.d. 478, to the death of the 
monarch, Diarmaid, son of Fergus Cerrbeail^ there was a space 
of eighty years. There were lour monarchs of Erinn within 
that time, namely, Lughaidh, son oi Laeahair^; Muirchertachy 
son of Ere ; Tuathal Mael Garbh; and Diarmaid. There were 
five kings of Scotland to correspond with these four of Erinn, 
namely, the above Fergus M6r; his brother, Aengus M6r; 
Domangort, the son of Fergus ; Comgali, the son of Domangort ; 
and Gabran, the son of Domangort. 

The parallel provincial kings of Erinn follow, but it is not 
necessary to enumerate them here. 

The first part of the synchronisms ascribed to Flann is lost 
firom the Book of Lecan, but it is preserved in the Book of Bally- 
mote (fol. 6, a.) ; and as far as can be judged from their tenor m 
the latter book, they must have been those used by Tighemach, 
or they may possibly have been taken from an earlier work 
which was common both to Tighemach and to the compiler of 
this tract. It is, in fact, the synclironism of Flann, now imper- 
fect, which we find at the commencement of Tighemach, but 
inserted there after having been first subjected to the critical 
examination and careful balancing of authorities which gene- 
rally distinguish that learned annalist. 

There is yet another important chronological composition in of the chro- 
existcnce, to which I must here allude: I mean the Poem of p^^^^f* 
Gilla Caemhain, who died a.d. 1072. cH^in. 

This writer begins by stating that he will give the annals of 
all time, from the beginning of the world to his own period. 
He computes the several penods firom the Creation to the De- 
luge, from the Deluge to Abraham, from Abraham to David, 
and from David to the Babylonian Captivity, etc. From the 


LECT. m Creation to the Incarnation he counts 3952 years. (This is 
Of the writ- ohviouslj the common Hebrew computation.) He then goes 
inga of FUnn on to Synchronize the Eastern sovereigns with each other, and 
caemhain aftcrwards with the Firbolgs and Tuatha DS Danann of Erinn, 
tSy>?^" and subsequently with the Milesians. 

He carries down the computation through several Eastern 
and Irish dynasties, giving the deaths of all the monarchs, and 
of several of the provincial kings of Erinn, as well as of many 
remarkable persons : such as the death of Finn Mac Cumhaiily 
of Saint Patrick, and of Saint Brigid, He also notices the great 
mortality of the seventh century, the drowning of the Danish 
tyrant Turgcsius, by King Maelsechlainn (or Malachy), etc.; 
continuing still to give the intervening years, down to the death 
of Brian BoroimhS, in 1014, and so on to the "Saxon" battle in 
which the king of the Danes was killed, five years before the 
date of the composition of his poem. 

The names of many other early writers on Irish history, and 
even, in some instances, fragments of their works, have come 
down to us ; but the two of whose compositions I have given 
the foregoing brief sketch, are in many respects the most re- 

The short notices we have given of the writings of Flann and 
Gilla Caemhain are quite suflSicient to show that they were 
famiUar with a large and extensive range of general history; 
and their clironological computations, parallels, and synchro- 
nisms, prove that they must have industriously examined every 
possible available source of the chief great nations of anti- 
quity. Such learning will probably seem to you remarkable 
at so early a period (a.d. 1050) in Ireland ; and even were it 
confined to churchmen, it must be admitted to be evidence of 
very considerable cultivation. But in the instance of Flann of 
the Monastery we have proof that this learning and cultivation 
were not confined to the Irish ecclesiastics ; for though we always 
find the name of Flann associated with the Monastery of Saint 
Buithd, it is well known that he was not in orders. He is never 
mentioned as an ecclesiastic ; and we know that he was married 
and left issue, as I have shown in the genealogical table pub- 
lished in the Celtic Society's edition of the Battle of Magh 
Lena. In fact, his employment was that simply of a lay teacher 
in a great school ; and he filled the office of Fer Leghinn^ or 
chief professor in the great College of Saint Buithe (a college as 
well lay as ecclesiastical), the ruins of which may still perhaps be 
seen at Monasterboice, in the modem county of Louth. 

Flann s death is noticed by Tighemach, under the year 1056, 
thus: — " Flann, of the monastery, a Gadelian [i.e., Gaedhlic, 


or Irish] author in history, in genealogy, in poetry, and in elo- lect. m. 
quence, on the 7th of the kalends of December, the 16th day qi„,^^ 
of the moon, happily finished his life in Christ". — [See original nach. (xi. 
in Appendix, No. XXIX.] The O'Clerys, in the Book of In- ^"°'^^- 
vasions (page 52), speak of him in the following terms: — 
** Flann, a Saoi of the wisdom, chronicles, and poetry of the 
Graels, made this poem on the Christian kings of Erinn, from 
Laeghaire to Maeheachlainn M6r^ beginning, ' The Kings of 
faithful Temar afterwards' ", etc. — [See original in Appendix, 
No. XXIX.] 

It is to be observed that Flann was the predecessor of Tigher- 
nach ; and without in the least de^e derogating from the well- 
earned reputation of that distinguished annaUst, enough of the 
works of Flann remain to show that he was a scholar of fully 
equal learning, and a historic investigator of the greatest merit. 

Let us now return to Tighemach, whose name stands among 
the first of Irish Annalists ; and, as we shall see in investigating the 
portions of his works which remain to us, this position has oeen 
not unjustly assigned him. If we take into account the early 
period at which he wrote, the variety and extent of his know- 
ledge, the accuracy of his details, and the scholarly criticism 
and excellent judgment he displays, we must agree with the 
opinion expressed by the Rev. Cnarles O'Conor, that not one of 
the countries of nortnem Europe can exhibit a historian of equal 
antiquity, learning, and judgment with Tighemach. " No* 
chronicler", says this author, " more ancient than Tighemach 
can be produced by the northern nations. Nestor, the father of 
Russian history, died in 1113; Snorro, the father of Icelandic 
history, did not appear until a century after Nestor ; Kadlubeck, 
the first historian of Poland, died in 1223 ; and Stierman could 
not discover a scrap of writing in all Sweden older than 1159". — 
[Stowc Catalogue, vol. i., p. 35.] 

In this statement, I may however observe, the learned author 
makes no mention of Bede, Gildas, or Nennius. With the great 
ecclesiastical historian of the Saxons, the Irish annalist does not 
come into comparison, as he did not treat exclusively of Church 
history ; but with the historians of the Britons, Tighemach may 
be most favourably compared. 

As to Tidiemachs personal history, but little, imfortunately, 
is known. Little more can be said of him than that he was of 
the Siol Muireadhaigh^ or Murray-race of Coimacht, of which 
the O'Conors were the chief sept ; his own name was Tiglter- 
nach OBraoin. He appears to have risen to high consideration 
and ecclesiastical rank, for we find that he was Abbot of the 




LBCT.m. Monasteries of Clonmacnois and Roscommon, being styled the 
Of Ti her- Comharba or " Successor" of Saint Ciaran and Saint Coman. 
naeh (XL The obituaTj notice in the Chronicum Scotormn runs thus : — 
ceatury). ,, ^^ ^^gg^ Ttghemoch Ua Braoin, of the Siol Muireadhaigh 
[the race of the O'Conors of Connacht J Comarba of Ciaran of 
tHuain-mic-nois and of Coman, died". — [See original in Ap- 
pendix, No. XXX.] The Annals of Inmsfallen describe him 
as a Saoi, or Doctor in " Wisdom", Learning, and Oratory ; and 
they record his death at the year 1088, stating that he was 
buried at Clonmacnois. These statements are confirmed by 
the Annals of Ulster. 

^l^^^ In speaking of Tighemach, I cannot pass without some notice 
cionmac- the monastery over which he presided : an institution of great 
antiquity. It was one of those remarkable establishments, eccle- 
siastical and educational, which seem to have existed in great 
numbers, and to have attained a high degree of excellence in 
learning in ancient Erinn. Clonmacnois would appear to have 
been amply endowed, and to have enjoyed a large share of royal 
patronage, several of the Kings and nobles of Meath and Con- 
nacht having chosen it as their place of sepulture. And we find 
it mentioned, that in many of the great establishments such as 
this, a very extensive staff of professors was maintained, repre- 
senting all branches of learning. We have already seen, in the 
case of Flann of the Monastery, that it was by no means neces- 
sary that those professors should be always ecclesiastics. 

Saint Ciaran was the founder of Clonmacnois. He was of 
Ulster extraction ; but his father (who was a carpenter) emi- 
grated into Connacht, and settled in Magh Ai (a plain, of which 
the present county of Roscommon forms the chief part) ; and 
here it was that young Ciaran was born, in the year 516. He 
studied at the great College of Clonard, in Westmeath, under 
the celebrated Saint Finnen ; and after finishing his education 
there, he went into the Island of Arann, on the coast of Clare, 
to perfect himself in religious discipline under the austere rule 
of Saint Enna. He returned again to Westmeath, where he 
received from a friendly chief a piece of ground upon which to 
erect a church. The situation of this church was low, and hence 
the church and locality obtained the name of heal Chiarain^ or 
Ciaran's low place. 

Saint Ciaran, after some time, left one of his disciples to rule 
in this church, and, apparently for the purpose of greater soli- 
tude, retired into the island called Inis Ainghin, in the Shannon, 
now included in the barony of Kilkenny West, in the modem 
county of Westmeath. Here he foimded another church, the 


ruins (or site) of which bear his name to this day. But the fame lbct. m. 
of his wisdom, learning, and sanctity, soon brought round him q^ ^^^ jj^ 
such a number of disciples and followers, that the limits of the niwtery of 
island were insuflBcient for them, and he therefore resolved once noilil'"**" 
more to return to the main land of Westmeath. This was in the 
year 538, the last year of the reign of TuatJial Maelgarbh, mo- 
narch of Erinn. 

This Tuathal (pron: "Toohal") was the third in descent 
from the celebrated monarch Niall, known in history as Niall 
of the Nine Hostages ; and at the time that he came to the 
throne there was another young prince of the same rajce and of 
equal claims to the succession of Tara, namely, Diarmaid^ the 
son of Fergus CerrbheoiL 

The new king, Tuathal^ feeling uneasy at the presence of a 
rival prince, banished Diarmaid irom Tara, and ordered him to 
depart out of the territory of Meath. Diarmaid^ attended by a 
few followers, betook himself in boats to the broad expansion of 
the Upper Shannon, living on the bounty of his friends at both 
sides of the river ; and in this manner did he spend the nine 
years that his opponent reigned. It was about this time that 
Saint Ciaran returned with his large establishment from Inis 
Ainghin to the main land, and Diarmaid^ happening to be on the 
river in the neighbourhood of the place where they landed, went 
on shore and loUowed them to Druim Tibrait (Hill of the 
Well), now called Cluain-mic-nois, or Clonmacnois, where 
they stopped. As he approached them, he found Saint Ciaran 

Slanting the first pole oi a church. " What work is about being 
one here ?" said Diarmaid. " The erecting of a small church", 
said Saint Ciaran. " Well may that indeed be its name", said 
Diarmaid, ''^Eglais Beg^ or The Little Church". " Plant the pole 
with me", said Saint Ciaran, "and let my hand be above your 
hand on it, and your hand and your sovereign sway shall be 
over the men of Erinn before long". " How can this be", said 
Diarmaid, "since Tuathal is monarch of Erinn, and I am exiled 
by him?" "God is powerful for that", said Ciaran. They then 
set up the pole, and Diarmaid made an offering of the place to 
God and Saint Ciaran. 

Diarmaid had a foster-brother in his train. This man's name 
was Maelmora. When he heard the prophetic words of the 
saint, he formed a resolution to verify them. With this purpose 
he set out, on horseback, to a place called Grellach Eillti (in 
the north part of the modem county of Westmeath), where ne 
had learned that the monarch Tuathal then was ; and having 
by stratagem gained access to his presence, he struck him in the 
breast with his spear, and killed him. It is scarcely necessaiy 



LECT. m. to say that Maelmora himself was killed on the spot. However, 
^^j^^ no sooner was Tuathal dead than i>iarmauf« friends sought him 
nastcJyoT out and brought him to Tara; and the very next day ne was 
^, proclaimed monarch of Erinn. [See Appendix, No. XXXI.] 

Diarmaid continued to be a bountiful benefactor to Clonmac- 
nois; and under his munificent patronage the Eglais beg^ or 
Little Church, soon became the centre around which were 
grouped no less than seven churches, two Cloictecks, or Roimd 
Towers, and a large and important town, the lone ruins of which 
now form so picturesque an object on the east bank of the 
Shannon, about seven miles below Athlone. 

Clonmacnois continued to be the seat of learning and sanctity, 
the retreat of devotion and solitude, and the favourite place of 
interment for the kings, chiefs, and nobles of both sides of the 
Shannon, for a thousand years after the founders time, till the 
rude hand of the despoiler plundered its shrines, profaned its 
sanctuaries, murdered or exiled its peaceful occupants, and 
seized on its sacred property. 

Fanciful as this accoimt of the origin of the far-fiuned Clon- 
macnois may at first sight appear, there still exists on the spot 
evidence of its veracity, which the greatest sceptic would find it 
difficult to explain away. There stands within the ruined pre- 
cincts of this ancient monastery, a stone cross, on which, amongst 
many other subjects, are sculptured the figures of two men, 
holding an erect staflf or pole between them ; and although the 
erection of this cross may belong (as I believe it does) to the 
beginning of the tenth century, and although it was then set up, 
no doubt, to commemorate the building of the Great Church by 
the monarch Flann and the Abbot Colman, there can be but 
little doubt, if any, that the two figures of men holding the pole 
were intended to perpetuate the memory of the manner of found- 
ing of the primitive Eglaia beg, or Little Church, the history of 
which was then at least implicitly believed. 

Many abbots and scholars of distinction will be found amongst 
the inmates of this retreat of piety and learning at various 
periods. I shall mention here the names of but a few ; 

A.D. 791. Saint Colchu Ua Duinechda, sumamed The 
Wise, died on the 20th February this year. He was supreme 
moderator or prelector, and master of the celebrated school of 
this abbey ; he was also a reader of divinity, and wrote a work, 
to which he gave the name of Scuap Crabhaigh, or the Besom 
of Devotion ; he obtained the appellation of chief scribe, and 
was master of all the Scots of Ireland. Albin, or Alcuin, bishop 
of Tritzlar, in Germany, and one of Charlemagne's tutors, in a 
letter to Saint Colchu, informs him that he had sent fifty shekels 


(a piece of money of the value of Is. 4d.) to the friars of his lect, m. 
house, out of the alms of Charlemagne, and fifty shekels from q,-^*^. 

himself. naeh. 

A.D. 887 died Suibhne, the son of Maelumha^ a learned scribe 
and anchorite. Florence of Worcester calls him Suifneh, the 
most esteemed writer of the Scots, and says that he died in 892. 

A.D. 924. On the 7th February, the Sage, Doctor, and 
Abbot, Colman Mac Ailill, died fiill of years and honour ; he 
erected the Great Church where the patron saint lies interred. 

A.D. 981. On the 16th of January died Donnchadh OBraoin^ 
having obtained a great reputation for learning and piety; to 
avoid the appearance of vain glory, he resigned the govern- 
ment of his abbey in the year 974, and returned to Armagh, 
where he shut himself up in a small enclosure, and lived a lonely 
anchorite till his death. 

A.D. 1024. Fachtna, a learned professor and priest of Clon- 
macnois, Abbot of lona, and chief Abbot of Ireland, died tliis 
year in Rome, whither he had gone on a pilgrimage, etc. 

These are but a few of the distinguished children of Clon- 
macnois previous to the time of Tighemach. 

Tighemach himself was undoubtedly one of the most remark- 
able of all the scholars of Clonmacnois. His learning appears 
to have been very varied and extensive. He quotes Eusebius, 
Orosius, Africanus, Bede, Josephus, Saint Jerome, and many 
other historic writers, and sometimes compares their statements 
on points in which they exhibit discrepancies, and afterwards 
endeavours to reconcile their conflicting testimony, and to cor-' 
rect the chronological errors of one wnter by comparison with 
the dates given by others. He also collates the Hebrew text 
with the Septuagint version of the Scriptures. 

These statements, which you will find amply verified when 
ou come to examine the Annals of Tighemach in detail, will 
e sufficient to show the extent of his general scholarsliip. It is 
to be presumed that he was perfectly acquainted with tne seve- 
ral historical compositions wnich had been written previous to 
his time. 

The common era, or that computed from the Incarnation of 
our Lord, is used by Tighemach, though we have no reason to 
believe that it was so by the great tish historical compilers 
who immediately preceded him. 

Tighemach also appears to have been familiar with some of 
the modes of correctmg the calendar. He mentions the Lunar 
Cycle, and uses the Dominical letter with the kalends of several 
years ; but he makes no direct mention of the Solar Cycle or 
Golden Number. 




I>ECT. m. 

Of the Air. 




I shall now proceed to consider the several copies of the 
~ Annals of Tighemach which have come down to ns, all <^ 
which are unfortunately in a very imperfect state. 

Seven copies of these annals are now known to exist, besides 
the vellum fragment which I shall mention presently. Two 
of them in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, are described by 
Dr. O'Conor in his Stowe Catalogue ; and one of these he has 
published, without the continuation, in the second volume of 
his " Rerum Hibemicarum Scriptores", a work which cannot 
be mentioned without a tribute of respect to the industry, 
learning, and patriotism of the author, and the spirited liberality 
of the English nobleman (the late Marquis of Buckingham), 
at whose personal expense this work, in four volumes 4to, 
was printed. 

Two copies of Tighemach, one of them in English charac- 
ters, are to be found in the collection of the Royal Irish Aca- 
demy ; and one in the Ubrary of Trinity College. The last, 
although on paper, is the most perfect, the oldest, and the most 
original, of those now in Ireland. In the Trinity College 
Library there is however also preserved a fragment, consisting 
of three leaves of an ancient vellum MS., apparently of Tig- 
hemach, though it is now boimd up with the vellum copy of 
the Annals of IFlster.^'*^ 

Two other but very inferior copies are to be found in the 
British Museum. The first of these (Egerton, 104, — Hardi- 
man MS.) is in small folio on paper, and has evidently been 
made either from one of the Stowe copies or from that in Trin. 
■ Coll. Dublin. It is a bad copy in every way. The handwrit- 
ing, both of the Gaedhlic text and of the inaccurate transla- 
tion which accompanies it, are (as well as my memory serves 
me) identical with that of the bad translation mixed with 
Gaedhlic words in the first volume of the MS. Annals of the 
Four Masters in the Library of the R.I. A., — the first of the two 
volumes in small folio. This copy of Tighemach commences 
at the same date as the T.C.D. copy, and comes down to 1163. 
The second in the British Museum (Egerton, 94, — Hardiman 
MS.) is but a bad copy of the last mentioned, made by a very 
inferior scribe. 

It is believed that an eighth copy of these annals exists in 
the collection of Lord Ashbumham ; but as that nobleman 
does not allow any access to his valuable Library of MSS., I 
am unable to say whether this is so or not. 

(»8) See Appendix, No. XXXII., in which will be found some valuable re- 
marks upon this remarkable fragment kindly communicated to me by the Rev. 
Dr. Todd, S.F.T.C.D., while theae sheets were paaaing through the press. 


These annals are of such importance to the illustration of lbct. m, 
Irish History, that I shall offer no apolo^ for introducing here ^^^^^ ^, 
some particular account of the copies wmch still remain. »al8 o» 

Dr. O'Conor has carefully examined those in the Bodleian mach. 
Library, and from his account of them, the following extracts 
are taken (Stowe Catalogue, Vol. I. p. 191, etc.). 

" It has not been hitherto observed , says this writer, " that Dr.o'Conws 
there are two Oxford copies, both imperfect : the first escaped ^^^^^ 
Sir J. Ware, though he had the use of it, and entered it in his 
catalogue as another work. It is marked *Rawlinson\ No. 
502. In a label prefixed to it, in Ware's hand, it is described 
thus : — * Annales ab Urbe condita usque adinitiiun Imperii An- 
tonini Pii' (Annals firom the building of the city to the reign of 
Antoninus Pius). 

" This MS. begins, in its present mutilated condition, with 
that part of Tighemach's cnronicle, where he mentions the 
foundation of Rome, and consists only of a few leaves ending 
with the reign of Antoninus ; but it is valuable as a fragment 
of the twelfth century. Very brief are the notices of Ireland, 
which are mixed up with the early parts of Tighemach. He 
(questions the veracity of all the most ancient documents rela- 
tmg to Ireland; and makes the historical epoch begin from 
Cimbaothj and the founding of Emania, about the eighteenth 
year of Ptolemy Lagus, before Christ 289. * Omnia Monu- 
menta Scotorum', says he, 'usque Cimboeth incerta erant'. 
(All the monuments of the Scots to the time of Cimboeth 
were uncertain.) 

" But yet he gives the ancient lists of the kings as he found 
them in the * Vetera Monumenta'. 

" In the fragment, Rawlinson, 502, fol. 1 b., col. 1, line 33, 
the end of the reign of Cobtliach^ the son of Ugainiy he syn- 
chronizes with the Prophet Ezechias, thus given : — Cobtach the 
Slender, of Bregia, the son of Ugan the Great, was burned with 
thirty royal Princes about him m Dun Riga, of the plain of 
Ailb, in the royal palace of the hill of Tin-bath (Tin is fire, 
bath is to slay), as the ancients relate, by Labrad, of ships, the 
beloved son of Ailill, the illustrious son of Laogare the Fierce, 
son of Ugan the Great, in revenge for the murder of his father 
and grandfather, killed by Cobtach the Slender. A war arose 
from this between Leinster and the Northern half of Ireland. 

" The second copy of Tighemach in the Bodleian, ' Raw- 
linson', 488, has not this passage, neither has it any part of 
this MS. preceding the time of Alexander. But firom thence 
both agree, to where the first ceases, in the reign of Anto- 
ninus; the loss of the remainder of that MS. is the more 



LEC T. Ill, lamentable, as the MS., No. 488, is imperfect and veiy ill 
oftiiTAjir transcribed. *The quotations from Latin and Greek authors 
vxLB OF " in Tighemach are very numerous ; and his balancing their autho- 
rities against each other, manifests a degree of criticism uncom- 
mon m the iron age in which he lived. He quotes Maelmura*s 
poem, thus: 

" Finit quarta aetas, incipit quinta, quae continet annos 589, 
ut Poeta ait:— The fourth age of the world finishes, the fifth 
commences, which contains 589 years as the poet says'*. — [See 
original in Appendix, No. XXXIII.] 

[Trom the bondage of the people to the birth of the Lord, 
Five himdred and eighty nine years of a truth ; 
From Adam to the birth of Mary's glorious Son, 
Was three thousand nine hundred and fifty-two years.] 

"This is a quotation from the Irish poem of Maelmura 
already mentioned ; from which it appears that both followed 
the chronology of the Hebrew text, rejecting that of the 

" Several leaves of this MS. are missing at the beginning. 
In its present state, the first words are, ' reffnare inchoans\ and 
then follows the reign of Ptolemy Lagus, King of Egj'^pt, the 
successor of Alexander, from whose eighteenth year he dates 
the foimding of Eomania. The leaf paged 4 by Ware, is 
really the tliird leaf of the book ; so that m Ware's time it ap- 
pears to have had one leaf more than at present. The leaf 
marked 5, is the 4th — that marked 6, is the 5th — that marked 

7, is the 6th. The next leaf is numbered 8 ; but this is an ad- 
ditional error, for one folio is missing between it and the pre- 
ceding ; so that it is neither the 8th in its present state (but 
the 7th), nor was it the 8th in Ware's time, or at any time. Its 
preceding leaf ends with an accoimt of St. Patrick's captivity, 
and the reign of Julian ; whereas the first line of the leaf paged 

8, relates the death of St. Cianan, of Duleek, to whom St. 
Patrick committed his copy of the Gospels ; so that there is a 
whole century missing, from St. Patrick's captivity, a.d. 388, to 
Ciaran's death in 490. 

"In the MS., Rawlinson, 488, the years are frequently 
marked on the margins in Arabic numerals, opposite to leading 
facts — thus, at fol. 7, col. 3, of the MS., countmg the leaves as 
they now are, opposite to the words * Patricius nunc natus est\ 
the margin bears the date 372 ; and opposite the words, ' Pa- 
tricius captivus in Hibemiam ductus est ' (col. 4), the margin 
bears the date 388 ; and opposite to the words kal. iii. Anas- 
lasius Regnat, annis xxviii. ' Patricius Archiepiscopus et Apos- 


tolus Hibemienaium anno setatis suae, cxx. die. xvi. kal. April, lect. hi. 
quievit, folio, paged 8, col. 1, the margin bears the date 491. 

" The two former of these dates are accurate ; but the latter is ahhalsof 
repugnant to the mind of Tighemach, who quotes a very ancient mIch**" 
Irish Poem on St Patrick*s death, to prove that he died in 
493, thus [see original in Appendix, No. XXXIV.] : 

" From the birth of Christ — ^happy event. 
Four hundred and fair ninety, 
Three noble years along with that. 
Till the death of Patrick, Chief Apostle. 

" The next year is erroneously marked on the margin 492 ; 
it ought to be 494. 

*' The marginal annotator has marked the years in Arabics, 
opposite to all the subsequent initials of years, in conformity 
with his calculation of 491 for the death of St. Patrick, and he 
errs also by omitting some of Tighemach's dates in that very 
page. Tighemach's work ends at page 20, col. 1, of this MS. 
The remainder, to folio paged 29 inclusive, is the Continuation 
of Tighemach's Annals, from his death in 1088, to 1178 inclu- 
sive. The whole is in one hand. 

" It is also to be observed that one leaf is missing after that 
marked 14 ; the next is marked 16 ; and the hiatus is to be la- 
mented, extending from 765 inclusive, to 973 — a period of 228 

" From this account", says Dr. O'Conor, " it is clear that no 

§ood edition of Tighemach can be founded on any copy in 
lie British Islands ; for that of Dublin, and all those hitnerto 
discovered, are founded on the Oxford MS., which is imperfect 
and corrupted by the ignorance of its transcriber. Innes, 
speaking of this MS., says — * The Chronicle of Tighemach, 
which Sir J. Ware possessed, and is now in the Duke of 
Chandos' Library, is a very ancient MS., but seems not so 
entire as one that is often quoted by OTlaherty' — Critical 
EssaVj vol. ii. p. 504. 

" OTlaherty's copy is quoted in the Journal des Scavans^ 
tom. iv. p. 64, and tom. vi. p. 51, year 1764, in these words: — 
* Many learned strangers, in acknowledging the history of Ire- 
land, give her annals as of an antiquity very considerable and 
an umversally approved authenticity. This is the judgment 
riven by Stillinglleet in the preface to his Antiquities, where 
he appears, on the contrary, to make of very little consequence 
all tne monuments of the Scotch. Mr. Innes, who never flat- 
ters the Irish, acknowledges the antiquity as well as the au- 
thenticity of their Annals, particularly those of Tighemach, 



Of the 


LECT. in. Inisfallen, and of several others. He remarks that the co] 
of the Annals of Tighemach, which belonged to Mr. OT 
herty, author of the Ogygia, appears more perfect than that 
found in the library of the Duke of Chanuos. I believe it 
my duty to declare here, continues tliis writer, that I pos- 
sess actually tliis same copy of the Annals of Tighemach, which 
was possessed by Mr. O'Flaherty, with an ancient Apograph 
of the Chronicle of Clonmacnols, which is well known unaer 
the title of Clironicon Scotorum Cluanense, and which belonged 
also to the same Mr. OTlaherty, who cites it very often in nis 
Ogygia. I possess also a perfect and authentic copy of the 
Annals of Inisfallen". 

The copy of Tighemach's Annals here last alluded to, there id 
every reason to believe, is that now in the library of Trinity Col- 
lege, Dublin [H. 1. 18]. The anonymous writer in the Journal 
des S^avans was, I have scarcely any doubt, the Abbe Connery ; 
though he may possibly have been the Rev., afterwards the 
Riffht Rev., Dr. J. O'Brien, Bishop of Cluain Uarnha (Cloyne). 

How the MS. passed from the hands of R. O'Flaherty 
into those of the Abbe, we know not, nor is it certain what 
their destination was after his decease. I believe it likely that 
they were for some time the property of the Chevalier O'Gor- 
man, though at what period they came into Ireland is not clear ; 
but they appear to have been at one time in the possession of the 
above-mentioned Dr. O'Brien (the author of an Irish-English 
Dictionary, printed at Paris in 1768), who probably brought 
them to Ireland about that time. 

The copy in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, under- 
went a pretty careful and accurate examination at the hands of 
the Rev. Dr. O'Conor, and he has left an autograph account 
of his investigation of it, which is now prefixed to tlie volume. 
This critical examination is the more important as having been 
made by one so familiar with the other copies of this codex in 
the Bodleian Library, and as it well shows the actual state and 
comparative value of the Trinity College MS., it is well worthy 
the attention of the student.^^^ 

The Trinity College MS. appears to have almost exactly 
the same defects as those in the Rawlinson MS., No. 488 in 
the Bodleian Library. Both, Dr. O'Conor says, begin with the 
same words ; but this we do not find to be accurately and Hterally 
the case, comparing the Trinity College MS. with the version 
of the Rawlinson MS., 488, printed m the second volume of 
the Rerum Hibemicarum Scriptores. Doctor O'Conor enters 

c»*) The greater part of this MS. account by Dr. O'Conor of the MS. in 
T.C.D. wUl be found in the Appendix, No. XXXIV. 


with much detail into an argument to show that the T.C.D. lect. in. 
MS. was copied, and, as he thinks, by a very illiterate scribe, ^^^^ 
from the Bodleian MS. (Rawlinson, 488). He points out annals op 
various faults in the Irish and Latin orthography and grammar JlcSf^" 
peculiar to both, and indeed identical in the two copies. 

We have abready mentioned that there are two copies of the 
Annals in the library of the Royal Irish Academy, but both, 
it is much to be regretted, are exceedingly imperfect. One, 
that in the Irish character, is probably from the hand of the 
Abbe Connery already alluded to. 

From all that has been said, it will appear that not any one, 
nor even a coUation and combination of all the copies of these an- 
nals now known to be extant, afford us any possibility of forming 
even a tolerably complete text. In their present state, all the 
copies want some of the most important parts relating to our 
early history, and many chasms exist at several of our most me- 
morable epochs. 

The authority of Tighemach is commonly appealed to by 
modem writers on Irish affairs, in fixing the date at which our 
national records should be deemed to fall within the domain 
of credible and authentic history. His well-known statement 
that the monuments of the Sooti before the time of Cimbaoth 
and the foimding of Emania (about 300 years before the birth 
of our Lord) were uncertain, has been almost universally ac- 
cepted and servilely copied without examination. And yet, on 
examininff the remains of his Annals which we now possess, 
we shall find it extremely difficult to decide how he was led to 
this conclusion, as to the value of our records previous to this 
period, records which we know to have existed in abundance 
m his time. [See Appendix, No. XXXIL] We have now no 
means of knowing why he was induced to adopt this opinion, or 
what may have been the grounds of it; or why, again, he fixed 
on this particular eventr— one remarkable not in the general 
national annals, but in those of a single province — as that from 
which alone to date all the true history of the whole country. 
It is, at all events, exceedingly remarkable that he should have 
assumed a provincial era instead of a general national one, and 
that he should have chosen the building of the palace of Emania, 
in the province of Ulster, near Ardmagh, instead of some event 
connected with the great national palace of Tara, the existence 
and preeminence of which he himself admits in the first passage 
of the fragment^ which remain to us. 

In the Rawlinson MS., 488, as printed by Dr. O'Conor, we 
find the passage runs thus : 

'* In anno xviiL Ptoleimei, initiatus est regnare in Eamain 




Of the 




LECT. ni. (i.e., in Emania Uitoniae Regia), Cimbaeth, filius Fintain, qui 
regnavit annis xviii. Tunc in Temair, Eachach-buadhach 
athair Ugaine (i.e , Tunc in TemoriB totius Hibemia Regia 
regnabat Eochadius Victor, pater Ugalni)". That is (for tlie 
explanatory words in the parentheses are O'Conor's) : " In the 
18th year of Ptolemy, Cimbaoth, son of Fintan, began to reim 
in Emania, who reigned eighteen years. Then Eochaidh, the 
Victorious, the father of Ugaine^ reigned in Tara". [But see 
Appendix, No, XXXV.] But he immediately after says, "all 
the monuments of the Scoti to the time of Cimbaoth were un- 
certain*': T" Omnia monumenta Scotorum usque Cimbaoth in- 

Of this singular preference of the provincial to the national 
monarch as the one from whose reign to date the conmaence- 
ment of credible Irish history, we can offer no solution. It is, 
moreover, to be remarked that, at least in the copies of his An- 
nals now extant, Tighemach continues to give the succession of 
the Emanian monarchs in regular order tlirough ten successive 
generations, without noticing the contemporary rulers at Tara, of 
whom no mention is again made until we come to the reign of 
Duach Dalta Deadhgha, whom he makes king of Erinn about 
48 years before the birth of our Lord, when Comiac Mac Lagh- 
teahi, or Loitigh, reigned in Emania. This period he synchro- 
mzes with the battle between Julius Ca^ar and Pompey. 

The next kings of Erinn he mentions are the two JEochaidhs, 
whom he makes contemporary with Eochaidh Mac Datr4, 
twelfth king of Emania. But throughout it is to be remarked, 
and not without great cause for surprise, that the Emanian dy- 
nasty is given the place of precedence, which, as far as we know, 
is not to be found assigned to it in the works of any other 
historian of an earlier or later period. It is also to be observed, 
that this preference for the Emanian dynasty is quite inconsistent 
with his own statement as given under the reign of Findchadh 
mac Baicfieda, eighth king of Emania, about 89 years before 
the Christian era, when he says : " Thirty kings there were of the 
Leinster men over Erinn from Labhraidh Loingsech to Cathair 
Mor". — [See original in Appendix, No. XXXVI.] Now accord- 
ing to the best Irish chronologists, LahliTaidh Loingseach reigned 
A.M. 4677 (B.C. 522), and Cathair Mor died a.d. 166. By this it 
is evident, that Tighemach here recognizes the existence of a su- 
preme dynasty at Tara, ruling over Ermn at least 200 years before 
the founding of Emania, or the period at which he in a former 
statement says that the credible history of Erinn commences. 

It is also to be noticed, that while the details of foreign his- 
tory given by Tighernach relating to remarkable occurrences 


at and preceding the Christian era are very ample, his accounts lect. in. 
of Irish events down to the third or fourth century, are ex- 177 

T 1 1 , •' ' Of the 

ceedingly meagre and scanty. aknau of 

Thus, he only mentions by name many of the kings whose hIch^*" 
reigns, fix)m other sources, we know to have been filled with 
remarkable and important acts. He barely notices the birth 
and death of Cuchulainrij and gives but a few passing words to 
the Tain h6 Chuailgne^ a national event, as we have already 
shown, of such interest and importance ; and all these events, 
be it remarked, falling within the historic period as limited 
by himself. 

We may also observe that there is * reason to think, from 
some few lacts exclusively mentioned by him, that he had be- 
fore him at the time of compiling his annals, ancient records 
not available to subsequent writers, as is shown by his account 
of the manner of Conor Mac Nessa's death, and his notice of 
the battle of "Craunagh" {vide O'Conor's Annals of Tigher- 
nach. Anno Domini 33). 

Tighemach undoubtedly takes the succession of the kings The chrono- 
of Emania from Eochaidh OTlinn's poem, which enumerates Jj^l^iSf 
them from Cimbaoth to Fergus Fogha, A fine copy of this o'FiiniL 
curious poem is preserved in the Book of Leinster (fol. 11.), 
and two in the took of Lecan. These different copies give 
us an important instance of the irregularities which must, 
almost of necessity, creep into dates and records which depend 
on irresponsible transcription, where the smallest departure 
from accuracy , particularly in the enmnerationof dates, will lead 
to confusion and inconsistency. In the copy of this poem pre- 
served in the Book of Leinster, — a compilation of the middle of 
the twelfth century, — the duration of the Ulster dynasty, from 
Cimbaoth to Conor Mac Nessa, is set down at 400 years, and 
the duration from Cimbaoth to the final overthrow ^of the 
Ulster sovereignty by the Three CoUas, at 900 years. Now 
the destruction of this power by the CoUas in tne Battle of 
Achaidh Leithdergj in Famey, took place in a.d. 331, which 
number, added to the four hundred years from Cimbaoth to 
Conor, would make but 731 years instead of 900. 

Again, in each of the copies in the Book of Lecain, the 
space from Cimbaoth to Conor is set down as 450 years, and 
still they give the entire duration as 900 years. 

Indeed the dangers of error in transcription are admitted 
in a very ancient poem in the Book of Leinster itself (folio 104), 
in which many matters of actual occurrence, but raised to fabu- 
lous importance, though not affecting chronology, are explained 
away. This curious poem consists of 111 stanzas, and its 


i,ECT. m. authorship is ascribed to GUla-an-Chomdeeh Ua Cormaie^ of 

Of the whom I know nothing more. It begins : — 

AxsALBow " O, King of Heaven, clear my way". — [See original in 

r,°r" Appendix, No. XXXVH.] 

However laboriously Tighemach may have worked to fix a 
starting date for Irish chronology, it is quite evident that the ma- 
terials m)m which he drew, were those records, poems, and other 
compositions of the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries, in 
which the length of reigns of the kings of Tara and of Emania 
are set out. For, having once fixed, say, the date of the found- 
ing of Emania, and the Roman era, and the corresponding 
king of Tara, he seems to have done little more, and indeed 
to have had occasion to do little more, than to correct the errors 
of dates, chiefly given in round numbers, and which after any 
considerable lapse of time must have led to errors in computa- 
tion and to false chronology. But as far as we can judge, Tigher- 
nach had not put the finishing hand to his work at the time of 
his death, ana, his observations on the ante-Emanian period 
being lost, we are left very much in the dark as to the grounds 
of his views. 

From all that has been said, I think it is not imreasonable to 
conclude, that this great annalist was surprised by the hand of 
death, when he had but laid down the broad outlines, the 
skeleton as it were, of his annals ; and that the work was never 

altiol Ir^ '^® founding of the palace of Emania, taken as the starting 
Emania. point of Credible Irish history by Tighemach, is an event of 
such importance as to warrant a digression here, and to require 
us to give some account of the circumstances which led 
to the erection of this seat of royalty in the north. The fol- 
lowing is a nearly literal account of the event, from a tract in 
the Book of Leinster. — [See the text of the original, with an 
exact translation, in Appendix, No. XXXVni.T 

"What is the origin of the name Emhain machaf begins 
the writer. " Three kings that were upon Erinn in co-sove- 
reignty. They were of the Ulstermen, namely, Dithorba^ the 
son of Diman, from UUnech, in Meath ; Aedh liuadh, the son 
of Badum, son of Airgetmar^ of Tir Aedh [now Tir-Hugh, 
in Donegal] ; and Cimbaoth^ the son of Fintan, son of Arget- 
mar, from Finnabair^ of Magh Inis". 

These kings made a compact, that each of them should 
reign seven years in turn, and this compact was confirmed by 
the guarantee of seven druids, seven Jilh, and seven young 
chiels (or champions) ; the seven druids to crush them by their 


incantatioiis, the seven filh to lacerate them by their satires, lect. m. 
and the seven young champions to slay and bum them, shordd oftheFoun- 
the proper man of tnem not receive the soverdgnty at the end dationof 
of each seventh year. And the righteousness of their sove- '^"*^"** 
reignty was to be made manifest by th e usual ac companiment s 
of a juat govftrriTTiftnt^ namely, abundance of the iruits ot tEe ' 
earth, an abundance of dye-stuffs for all colouring, and that j 
women should not die in cnildbirth. 

They lived until each reigned three times in his turn, that 
is, during the space of sixty-three years. Aedh Ruadh was 
the first of them that died, having been drowned in the great 
cataract named from him Eas Ruaidh (or Easroe), at Bally- 
shannon, near Sligo, and his body was carried to the hill there ; 
hence Aedh's Hill, and Eoiruaidh Aedh left no sons and but 
one daughter, who was named Macha Mongruadh (or Macha the 
red-haired), who after her father's death claimed his place in the 
sovereignty ; but Dithorba and Cimbaoth said that they would 
not allow a woman to have any share in the government. 

Macha thereupon raised an army amongst her friends, 
marched against the two kings, gave them battle and defeated 
them, and then took her turn of seven years of the monarchy. 

Dithorba was killed in battle soon after, but left five sons 
who also claimed their turn of the sovereimty. Macha said 
she would not admit them, as it was not under the former gua- 
rantee that she had obtained her soverei^ty, but by right of 
battle. The young princes therefore raised an army and en- 
gaged the queen in battle, in which they were defeated with 
the loss of all their followers. Macha then banished them into 
the wilds of Connacht, after which she married her co-sove- 
rei^ Cimbaoth, to whom she resigned the command of the 
national, or perhaps more correctly, the provincial army. 

Macha having now consolidated her power, and secured 
her throne against all claimants but the sons of Dithorba, laid 
a plan for their destruction ; and, with this intention, she went 
into Connacht, where she soon discovered their retreat, cap- 
tured and carried them prisoners into Ulster. The Ulstennen 
demanded that they should be. put to death, but Macha said 
that that would make her reign unrighteous, and tliat she would 
not consent to it, but that she would enslave them, and con- 
demn them to build a rath or court for her, which should be 
the chief city of Ulster for ever. And she then marked out 
the foundations of the court with her golden brooch, which she 
took from her breast (or neck) ; and hence the name of Emain, 
or rather Eomuin, from Eo a breast-pin or brooch, and Muin 
the neck, — which when compounded make Eomuin, — now 



LF.CT. in. inaccurately Latinized Emania, instead of Eomani&. Ulster was 
then erected into a kingdom with Cimbaoth for its first king. 

This occuixed, according to some authorities, 405 years before 
the Incarnation of our Lord (OTlinn's poem makes it 450 
years), and it was not till the year 331 of the Christian era 
tliat Emania was destroyed by the CoUas, and the Ultonian 
dynasty overthrown. 

Of the 
of EmaniA; 
and of 

The princes known in the ancient Chronicles of Erinn as the 
Three Collas, make such an important figure in history in con- 
nection with the destruction of Emania, that it is but proper to 
give a brief account of them. 

Cairhri lAfechair succeeded his father, the celebrated Cormac 
Mac Art, in the sovereignty of Erinn, A.D. 267. This Cairbr^, 
who was killed in the Battle of Gabhra, or Gawra, left three 
sons, namely, Fiacha Srahteni^ Eochaidh, and Eocliaidh Domh- 
Ihi, Fiacha Srabtene succeeded his father, Cairbri; but his 
reign, though long, was not peaceable, being disturbed by the 
sons of his brother, Eochaidh Domlen, namely, the Three Collas 
{Colla Uais, or the Noble, — Colla Meann, or the Stammerer, — 
And Colla Fdchri^ or of the Earth, earthy, claylike), who 
revolted against him, and at last, at the head of a large num- 
ber of followers, gave liim battle 2X Dubh-Chomur^ near TaiUtin 
(now Telltown, in the modem county of Meath), where they 
overthrew and killed him, after which Colla Uais assumed the 
monarchy of Erinn, which he held for four years. 

Fiacha, the late monarch, had, however, left a son, Muireadh- 
achj who, in his turn, made wax on Colla Uais, drove him ftom 
tlie sovereignty, and forced himself and his brothers and their 
followers to fly into Scotland. Here they led such a life of 
turmoil and danger, that in three years' time they returned into 
Lreland and surrendered themselves up to their cousin, the mo- 
narch, to be pimished as he might think fit, for the death of his 
father. Muireadhach, however, seeing that they were brave 
men, declined to visit them with any punishment ; but, mak- 
ing friends with them, he took them mto his pay and confi- 
dence, and gave them command in his army. After some years, 
however, he proposed to them to establish themselves in some 
more independent position than they could attain in his service, 
and pointed to the conquest of the kingdom of Ulster as a project 
worthy of their ambition. The Collas agreed to make war on 
Ulster, and for that purpose marched with a numerous band of 
followers into that country, and encamped at the Cam oiAchaidh 
Leith derg, in Feammhaigh (Farney, in the modem county of 
Monaghan). From this camp they ravaged the country around 


them, until the Ulstennen, under their king Fergus Foghaj lect. m. 
came to meet them, when a contested battle was fought for q, ^^^ 
six days, in. which, at length, the Ulstennen were defeated, instruction 
and forced to abandon the neld. They were followed by their ° "*° ** 
victorious enemies, and driven over Glen Ri^hi fthe valley 
of the present Newry Water), into the district which forms 
the modem counties of Down and Antrim, from which they 
never after returned. The CoUas destroyed Emania, and then 
took the whole of that part of Ulster (now forming the modem 
counties of Armagh, Louth, Monaghan, and Fermanagh) into 
their own hands as Swordland ; and it was held by dieir descen- 
dants, the Maguires, Mac Mahons, O'Hanlons, and others, down 
to the confiscation of Ulster under the English king, James 
the First. 

Thus ended the Ultonian dynasty, after a period of more than 
seven hundred years' duration, and the glories of Emania and 
of the House and Knights of the Royal Branch were lost for 



.1 1 

r ' 


CDdhrand Ibn* B, 1856] 

Tbb Amitau (contmned). 2. The Aiuialg of Inisfallen. 8. Th« Annalt 
called the Annalfl of Boyle. The Poems of O Huidhrin, 4. The Annals 
of Senait Mac Manus, called the Annals of Ulster.- 

According to the order I have prescribed to myself, we proceed 
now to the consideration of the Annals compiled subsequent 
to the period of Tighemach (pronounced nearly " Teer-nah"). 

It is generally supposed that a considerable mterval of time 
elapsed between the year 1088, in which this great Irish histo- 
rian died, and the appearance of any other body of historic 
composition deserving the name of Aimals ; and it will be ne- 
cessary for us to inquire whether any writers on Irish affairs 
existed within this period requiring notice at our hands, in order 
that we may follow the chain of historic composition with some 
degree of uniformity 
conttau»- It is, however, to be observed here, that in the existing 
aSIS^sS^ copies of Tighemach we find the annals continued to the year 
Tigherwuh.\ 1407 ; that is, to a date more than three hundred years subse- 
quent to Tighemach's own time. It is not improbable that the 
original body of these annals was gradually and progressively 
enlarged ; but we have no reliable information as to the precise 
manner in which, or tlie persons by whom, the earlier parts of 
tlie continuation were made. 

In the commencement of the fifteenth century we find re- 
corded the death of a certain Augustin MacGrady, who, it is 
well known, laboured at the continuation of these annals ; but 
we again find them continued after his death, which happened 
in 1405, down to the year 1407 (where they end imperfect), 
though by what hand is not certain. 

The following entry is found in the Annals themselves at the 
end of the year 1405 : — 

" Augustin Ma Gradoigh, a canon of the canons of the Island 
of the Saints [in Loch Ribh in the Shannon], a Saoi (or Doctor) 
during his life, in divine and worldly Wisdom, in Literature, 
in History, and in various other Sciences in like manner, and 
the Doctor [OllamK] of good oratory, of western Europe, — the 
man who compiled this book, and many other books, both of 


the Lives of the Saints and of historical eTents,— <lied on the lbct. iv. 
Wednesday before the first day of November, in the fifty-^sixth ^^ ^^ 
year of his age, on the sixth djay of the moon. May the mercy Annaii>tt 
of the Saviour Jesus Christ come upon his souF. [See origi- to r^^^ 
nal in Appendix, No. XXXIX.] "*^ 

It is not improbable that the subsequent continuation of 
Tighernach may have been carried on by some member of the 
same fraternity. 

In enumerating those of our national records to which the 
name of Annals has been given, we have commenced with those of 
Tighernach, because these annals seemed naturally to claim our 
attention in the first place, not only on account of their extent 
and importance, but in consideration of the scholarship and 
judgment exhibited in their composition. It is by no means 
certain, however, that they were the first in order of time. 
There is great reason to believe that both local and general an- 
nals were kept, even long before the time of Tighernach, in some 
of the great ecclesiastical and educational establishments, and 
also by some of those accomplished lay scholars of whom men- 
tion is so frequently made as having nourished in the eighth, 
ninth, and tenth centuries. 

We have before, in the remarkable instance of Flann Mai- 
nistrech^ called attention to the great learning and the devotion to 
scholarly pursuits which were to be found in Irish lavmen of 
the tenth and eleventh centuries. And when we reflect that 
this learning and this devotion to the pursuit of knowledge 
were often combined with exalted social rank, sometimes even 
princely, and with the enjoyment of extensive territorial sway, 
1 think the fact offers evidence of a cultivation and diffusion of 
literature, which, at so eariy a period, would do honour to the 
history of any coimtry. We shall have frequent occasion to 
speak of this class of Irish scholars. 

The next existing compilation after that of Tighernach, in of tba 
order of time, is the very extensive body of ecclesiastical as toMFAuSi. 
well as general historic records, known as the Annals of Inis- 
FALLEN. The composition of these Annals is usually attri- 
buted to the early part of the thirteenth century (about a.d. 
1215), but there is very good reason to believe that they were 
commenced at least two centuries before this period. 

The Monastery of Tnis Faiihlenn (pron: "Inish Fah-len"), 
or Inisfallen, on the island of the same name, in Loch LUn 
(the Lake of Klillamey), is of great antiquitj, dating from the 
sixth century, in the latter part of which it was founded by 



LECT. IV. Saint Findn Lobhary who was also the founder of Ard Finan(in 
Of the ^^ modern County of Tipperary), and other churches. Tne 
Monastciy of festival of the Saint was observed on the 16th of March, accor- 
iKisFALLinr. ^g ^ ^^ Martyrology of Aengus CeilS Di. 

Amongst those who flourished in this monastery, at the close 
of the tenth century, we find the name of Maelsuthain OCear- 
bhaill (pron : " Maelsoohan O'Carroll''). This remarkable man 
was Lord of the JEoganacht or Eugenian Tribes of the terri- 
tory of Loch Lein. It is probable that he had received his 
early education witliin the walls of Liisfallen ; and at the close 
of his days, after an eventful life, we find him again amongst 
its inmates, as was not imusual with princes in those times. 
Maelsuthain appears to have attained great eminence as a scho- 
lar. He is styled the chief Saoi or Doctor of the western 
world, in the notice of his death, under the year 1009, in the 
Annals of the Four Masters. He attained also a high degree of 
consideration amongst his contemporary princes. 

There is reason to think that Brian Boroimhi was educated 
xmder the care of this Maelsuthain; and at a subsequent time 
we find him named the Annicliara^ or Coimsellor, of that 
great Dalcassian chief, when monarch of Erinn. His asso- 
ciation with Brian is well evidenced by a curious note still 
legible in the Book of Armagh. This note was written about 
1002, by Maelsuthain's own hand, in the presence of the king. 
This valuable entry shall be brought under your more imme- 
diate consideration on a future occasion ; I only mention it at 
present, as affording proof of the important rank and position 

Amongst some few other notices of Maelsuthain which I 
have met with, the following is altogether so singular, and 
throws light on so many subjects of interest to the Irish histo- 
rian, that, though of a legencbjy character, I think it worthy of 
a place here. [See original in Appendix, No. XL.] I msy 
observe that I have seen but one copy of the tract in which it 
is found.^^ 

" There came three students at one time", says the narrator, 
** from Cuinnire"^ [the ancient church from which the diocese 
of Conor, in Ulster, is now named] "to receive education 

LegPTid of 



(34) Thifl tract is in a MS. on TeUum, in two parts or volumes quarto, writ- 
ten in the year 1434 (part i. fol. 63, a,) The writing is often apparently that of 
an unprofessional scribe, who seems to have copied largely from sources now 
lost to us. These MSS. belong to James Marinus Kennedy, Esq., of 47 
Gloucester Street, Dublm, to whom they were handed down from his ancestor, 
Dr. Fergus. They are known by the name of the "Liber Flavus Fergu- 
sorum". These MSS. were lent me a few years ago by the owner, and a 
general list of their contents will be found in the Appendix, No. XLL 


from the Anmcliara of Brian Mac Kennedy (or Brian Bo- lect. iv. 
roimhS); that is Maelsuthain O'Carroll, of the Eoganachts of 
Loch Lein, because he was the best sage of his time. These MMUuthain 
three students resembled each other in figure, in features, and ^'^»"^"- 
in their name, which was Domnall. x hey remained three 
years learning with him. At the end of three years, they said 
to their preceptor: * It is our desire', said they, 'to go to Jeru- 
salem, in the land of Judea, in order that our feet may tread 
every path which the Saviour walked in when on Earth'". 
. The master answered: *You shall not go until you have left 
with me the reward of my labour*. 

" Then the pupils said : * We have not', said they, * anything 
that we could give, but we will remain three years more, to 
serve you humbly, if you wish it', ' I do not wish that\ said he ; 
*but you shall grant me my demand, or I wiU lay my curse upon 
you'. ' We will grant you that', said they, * if we have it'. He 
then bound them by an oath on the Gospel of the Lord. * You 
shall go in the path that you desire', said he, * and you shall die 
all at the same time together, on the pilgrimage. And the de- 
mand that I require irom you is, that you go not to Heaven 
after your deaths, until you have first visited me, to tell me the 
length of niy life, and until you tell me whether I shall obtain 
the peace oi the Lord'. * We promise you all this', said they, 
* for the sake of the Lord' ; ana then they left him their bless- 
ings (and departed). 

" In due time they reached the land of Judea, and walked in 
every path in which they had heard the Saviour had walked. 

" They came at last to Jerusalem, and died together 
there ; and they were buried with great honour in Jerusalem. 
Then Michael the Archangel came from God for them. But 
they said : * We will not go, until we have fulfilled the promise 
which we made to our preceptor, under our oaths on the Gospel 
of Christ'. ' Go', said the angel, ' and tell him that he has still 
three years and a half to live, and that he goes to Hell for all 
eternity, after the sentence of the day of judgment'. 

" * Tell us', said they, * why he is sent to Hell'. * For three 
causes', said the angel, * namely, because of how much he in- 
terpolates the canon ; and because of the number of women 
with whom he has connexion ; and for having abandoned the 

(») The Alius, This was the celebrated poem or hymn written by Saint 
Colnm Cille at lona, in honour of the Trinity, when the messengers of Pope 
Gregory came to him with the great cross and other presents. This poem is 
published in Colgan*s '* Acta Sanctorum"*, and is now (1859) again in course of 
publication, with notes and scholia, for the Irish ArchsM^logical and Celtic 
Society, under the editorship of the Bey. Dr. Todd, S.F.TC.D. 



LEcr. IV. "The reason why he abandoned the Alius", says the nam- 
~ tor of this singular story, " was this : He had a very good son, 

MaeUuthain whose name was Maelpatrick. This son was seized with a 
O'Carrou. mQjtai sickness ; and the Altus was seven times sung around 
him, that he should not die. This was, however, of no avail 
for them, as the son died forthwith. MaeUuthain then said that 
he would never again sing the Altus, as he did not see that God 
honoured it. But", continues the narrator, " it was not in dis- 
honour of the Altus that God did not restore his son to health, 
but because he chose that the youth should be among the family 
of Heaven, rather than among the people of Earth. 

" Maelsuthain had then been seven years without sin^ng the 

" After this his three former pupils came to talk to MaeU 
suthairiy in the forms of white doves, and he bade them a 
hearty welcome. * Tell me\ said he, * what shall be the length 
of my life, and if I shall receive the Heavenly reward'. * You 
have , said they, ' three years to live, and you go to Hell for 
ever then'. * What should I go to Hell for ?' said he. ' For 
three causes', said they ; and they related to him the three causes 
that we have already mentioned. * It is not true that I shall go 
to Heir, said he, * for those three vices that are mine this day, 
shall not be mine even this day, nor shall they be nunc from 
this time forth, for I will abandon these vices, and God will for- 
give me for them, as He Himself hath promised, when He said : 
"Impietas impii in quacumque hora conversus fuerit non nocebit 
ei" [Ezek., xxxiii. 12.] (The impiety of the impious, in what- 
ever hour he shall be turned from it, shall not injure him.) I 
will put no sense of my own into the canons, but such as I 
ahaU find in the divine books. I will perform an hundred 
genuflections every day. Seven years have I been without sing- 
mg the Altus, and now I will sing the Altus seven times every 
night while I live ; and I will keep a three days' fast every week. 
Go you now to Heaven', said he, * and come on the day of my 
death to tell me the result'. * We will come', said they ; and 
the three of them departed as they came, first leaving a blessing 
with him, and receiving a blessing from him. 

" On the day of his death the three came in the same forms, 
and they saluted him, and he returned their salutation, and said 
to them : * Is my life the same before God that it was on the for- 
mer day that ye came to talk to me ?' * It is not, indeed, the 
same', said they, * for we were shown your place in Heaven, and 
we are satisfied with its goodness. We have come, as we pro- 
mised, for you, and come now you with us to the place which 
is prepared for you, that you may be in the presence of God, 


and in the unity of the Trinity, and of the hosts of Heaven, lect. iv . 
till the day of judgment'. ^^^^ 

"There were tnen assembled about him many priests andAwtAMop 
ecclesiastics, and he was anointed, and his pupils parted not **"'^^'''*- 
from him until they all went to Heaven together. And it is 
this good man's manuscripts (" screptra") that are in Inisfallen, 
in the church, still". 

This singular, and, undoubtedly, very old legend, offers to 
our minds many interesting subjects of consideration ; amongst 
which, not the least remarkable is that of this early pilgrimage 
from Ireland to the Holy Land. On these points, however, we 
shall not dwell at present, farther than to observe that the story 
furnishes evidence of the reputation for learning enjoyed by 
Maelsutfiain, and also of the belief that manuscripts compiled by 
his hand were to be found in Inisfallen at his death. 

Whether by the word " Screptra", thus mentioned, is meant 
a single volimie, or a collection of writings constituting a library, 
it is not easy to determine. We find the word used in the 
account of the burning of the Teach Screptra, or House of Wri- 
tings, of Armagh (a.d. 1020) ; and in tnat of the collection of 
MSS. of O'Cuimin, the largest known to exist in Ireland in the 
fifteenth century (1416). 

There has always existed in the south of Ireland a tradition 
that the Annals of Inisfallen were originally composed by 
Maelsiiihain; and a similar statement is made by Edward 
O'Reilly in his Irish writers. 

Taking into account the acknowledged learning of O'Carroll, 
the character of his mind, his own station, and the opportu- 
nities afforded him by his association with the chief monarch of 
Erinn, there is certainly no improbability in connecting him 
with the composition of these annals ; and, for my own part, I 
have no douot that he was either the original projector of 
them, or that he enlarged the more meagre outlines of ecclesi- 
astical events kept in tne Monastery of Inisfallen, as probably 
in most others, into a general histonc work. 

Of the continuations of these annals, in the two centuries 
subsequent to MaeUuthain^ down to the year 1215, little is 
known. Unfortunately no genuine copy of this important 
body of annals is now to be found in Ireland, and we must 
therefore draw from the description of Dr. O'Conor. 

A compilation of the latter half of the last century by John 
O'Mulconry, has also received the name of Annals of Inisfallen. 
Why they have been thus named is not sufficiently clear; but 
any notice that we shall take of them must be reserved for 
another occasion. 



Of the 
Akkau ov 

The Bodleian Library copy of the Annals of Inisfallen is a 
quarto MS. on parchment, it is thus described by Dr. O'Conor, 
under the No. 64, in the Stowe Catalogue [Vol. I., p. 202] : 

" It contains fifty-seven leaves, of which the three first are 
considerably damaged, and the fourth partly obliterated. Some 
leaves also are missing at the be^nning. In its present state, 
the first treats of Abraham and the JPatriarchs down to the 
sixth, where the title is — * Hie incipit Regniun Graecorum'. At 
the end of this leaf another chapter begins thus — * Hie incipit 
Sexta aBtas Mimdi\ The leaves follow m due order from folio 
nine to the end of folio thirty-six, but, imfortunately, there are 
several blanks after this. On the fortieth leaf two lines occur 
in Ogham characters, which have been thus deciphered [by Dr. 
O'Conor] — ' Nemo honoratur sine nummo, nuUus amatur". 
Towards the end the writing varies considerably, and is un- 
questionably more recent and barbarous. 

" Indeed", adds Dr. O'Conor, " the latter part of this valu- 
able MS., from folio thirty-sixj where the division of each page 
into three columns ceases, and where a leaf is missing, appears 
to be written by a more recent hand ; so that from mspection 
it might be argued, that the real original ended with the year 
1130, and that the remainder has been added by different 
Abbots of Inisfallen afterwards. Down to 1130, the initials 
are rudely adorned and coloured, and the writing is elegant ; 
but from thence to the end, there is no attempt at any species 
of ornament, and the writing declines from barbarous to more 
barbarous still, in proportion as we approach the end. The 
last leaf is the fifty-seventh of the manuscript, and ends with 
the year 1319. 

" The few scattered notices relative to the pagan history of 
Ireland, which are occasionally introduced and synchromzed 
with the universal history in the first leaves of this chronicle, 
have been carefully collated and pubUshed in the * Rerum Hiber- 
nicarum', vol. I., and from a collation of these fragments with 
those preserved in the same manner by Tighemach, it is very 
clear that both are founded on a common source, since several 
of the quotations and several sentences are exactly in the same 
words. What this common source was, it would be difficult to 
define. Tighemach quotes a great number of Irish authors 
of the seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries. 

" The following accoimt of this MS. is given by Innes, who 
saw it when it was preserved in the Duke of Chanaos' library" — 
[I still quote the author of the Stowe Catalogue.] " In the 
same Chandos library are the Annals of Inisfallen and Tigher- 
nach. These, indeed, want some leaves in the beginning and 


elsewhere, and begin onljr about the lime of Alexander the l ect. tv. 
Great. But till St. Patrick's time, they treat chiefly of the ^ ^^^ 
general history of the world. The Annals of Inisfallen, in ahwal§ or 
the same library, contain a short account of the history of the ^*"'^"*''- 
world in general, and very little of Ireland till the year 430, 
where the author properly begins ('at folio nine) a clironicle of 
Ireland, thus — * Laogairi Mac Neil regnavit annis xxiv.', and 
thenceforward it contains a short chromcle of Ireland to 1318. 
These three manuscript chronicles, the Saltair of Cashel, Tigher- 
nach, and Inisfallen, are written in Irish characters, and in the 
Irish language intermixed with Latin. They were formerly 
collected, with many other valuable MSS. relating to Ireland, 
by Sir J. Ware, and came first to the Earl of Clarendon, and 
then to the Duke of Chandos. 

" To all this account by Innes", says Dr. O'Conor, " the 
compiler of this catalogue, after a most patient examination, 
willingly subscribes. He only adds, what escaped Innes, that 
this MS. is not all in one hand, nor all the work of one author". 

In the same manuscript as that which contains the Annals of o^ ^^e 
Inisfallen, there is a copy of those known as the Annals of botle. 
Boyle, of which I shall nave to say something in a future lec- 
ture in correction of the mistakes of Dr. O'Conor and others, 
as to the name thus attributed to the annals in question. No 
copy of these annals exists in Ireland ; and I must again quote 
Dr. O'Conor for a brief notice of the Bodleian MS. 

"The ancient Monastery of Boyle was founded by St. 
Columba, and called Eas-mac-^-Eirc, a name which it derived 
from its pleasant situation, near a cataract, about a mile from 
where the river Boyle discharges itself into Loch CM. The 
Cistercian Monastery of Boyle was founded, not exactly on the 
site of the ancient monastery, but not far from it, in the year 1161. 

" The writers on Irish antiquities frequently confound the 
Annals of Boyle with the Annals of Connacht. To prevent 
mistakes of tms kind, we must observe, that the manuscript in 
the Cotton Library (Titus A, xxv.), quarto, part on paper, 
part on parchment, and consisting of 138 leaves of both, is the 
original from which this Stowe copy was transcribed. The 
first article of that MS. is on parchment, and is entitled — 
^ Annales Monasterii de Buellio in Hibemia'. It is part in 
Irish, part in Latin, beginning from the Creation; treating 
briefly of universal history to the arrival of St. Patrick, ana 
from thence of Irish history down to 1253". 

It is to be regretted that we have no means of fixing, with 
any degree of precision, the period at which the Annals of 




Of the 


HiBtorlc wTi 
ters of the 
XI I., XIII., 
and XIV. 

Inisfallen, or those here called the Annals of Boyle, were 
composed. The difficulty is referrible, not to any paucity of 
authors in the centuries to which they are usually assigned, 
but rather to the impossibility of fixing upon any one out of 
the hosts of writers whose names have come down to us, to whom 
their compilation may be with tolerable certainty attributed. 

With regard to the Annals of Inisfallen, tliei*e is, as we have 
just seen, a high degree of probability, that some body of records 
was compiled by O'Oarroll in his time ; but we do not know who 
continued them in the two following centuries. Less is unfortu- 
nately to be ascertained about the Annals called those of Boyle. 
The periods, however, within wliich the compilation of both may 
be comprised, were very fertile in men of learning, as will suf- 
ficiently appear from the following list, which comprises but a 
few only of the more remarkable historic writers of the period 
which intervened between the time of the composition of the 
Annals of Tighemach and that of the next body of historic 
records which we shall have to notice. They are selected from 
the very numerous writers whose deaths are recorded by the 
Four Mastei*s, in almost every year of this period. 

A.D. 1136. Died Maelisa Mac ilaelcoluim, the chief keeper 
of the calendar at Armagh, and the chief topographical surveyor 
and librarian of that see. In the same year died Neidhe O'Mul- 
conroy, the historian. 

A.D. 1168. Died Flannagan ODuhlithaigh [or O'DufFy], a 
bishop and chief professor of the men of Ireland, in history, 
genealogy, eloquence, and every species of knowledge known 
to man in his time. He died at Citnga [or Cong], in Connacht. 

A.D. 1232. Died Tipraite OBraoin [or O'Breen], a man 
deeply learned in theology and in law. He was successor of 
Saint Coman of Roscommon, and died in Inis Clothrann on his 

A.D. 1279. Giolla losa Mor Mac Firbis, one of the chief 
historians of Tir Flachra^ or North-western Connacht, died. 

[This author, we are well aware, was succeeded by a line of 
historians and chroniclers of his own family, ending with the 
learned Dubhaltach (or Duald) Mac Firbis, in the year 1668.] 

A.D. 1372. Died Shane O'Dugan, a distinguished poet and 
historian of Connacht, whose poems on the Cycles, Calendar, 
Epact, Dominical Letter, Golden Number, etc., are so well 

A.D. 1376. Conor O'Beaghan and Cealluch Mac Curtln, the 
two chief historians of Thomond, died. John ORuanaidh 
[or O'Rooney], chief poet to Magenls, died. MeWhlin O'Mul- 
vany, chief poet and nistorian to O'Cane, died. Donogh Mac 
Firbis, a good historian of Connacht, died. 


A.D. 1390. Duibhgenn O'Duigenan, chief historian of East lect. iv. 
Connaught, died. ... otania 

A.D. 1398. David O'Duigenan, chief historian to the M&c na^aemh 
Dermots, etc., a man of all science and knowledge, and a wealthy ^*^ *** 
Brugaidh [or farmer], died. 

A.D. 1400. Gregory, the son of TanaidhS O'Mulconry, chief 
chronicler to the Siol Muiredhaidh [or O'Conors of Connacht], 
and a master in various kinds of knowledge, was accidentally 
kiUed by William Mac David, who was condemned to pay a 
fine of 126 cows for the act. 

A.D. 1405. [We have already noticed the death of Augus- 
tin M'Grady, the continuator of Tighernach at this date.] 

Giolla na Naemh O'lluidhritiy a native of Leinster, who died 
A.D. 1420, was the author of several valuable historical poems 
and tracts. The most remarkable of them is his well known 
Irish topographical poem. 

Among his other compositions are, first, a tract and poem on 
the names, reigns, and deaths of the Assyrian emperors, from 
Ninus to Sardanapalus, synchronizing them with the monarchs 
of Erinn, from its earliest reported colonization down to the 
death of the monarch Muineaman, in, the year of the world 
3872. Second, a tract on the names and length of the reigns 
of the kinffs of the Medes, from Arbactus to Astyagcs, and of the 
corresponding monarchs of Erinn, from the abovementioned 
Muineaman to Nuada Finnfdil, in the year of the world 4238. 
Third, a tract or poem on the length of the reigns of the Chal- 
dean kings, from Nebuchadnezzar to Baltazar, and the corres- 
ponding monarchs of Erinn, from the abovementioned Nuada 
to Lughaklh larrdonn, in the year of the world 4320, etc. And 
thus he goes on with the Persian, Greek, and Roman emperors 
in succession, and the succession of the contemporary monarchs 
of Erinn, down to Theodosius and Laoghaii^e Mac Neill, who 
was monarch of Erinn when Saint Patrick came in A.D. 432. 

The Annals of Senait (pron: " Shanat") Mac Manus, com- or the 
monly called the Annals of Ulster, form the next great u^x^**' 
body of national records which we have to consider ; and from 
the preceding list of writers, subsequent to the time of Tigher- 
nach, it will be apparent, that abundant materials must nave 
been accumulated in this long interval, which lay ready to the 
hand of the compiler. 

Of these annals there are five copies known to exist at pre- 
sent — one in the Bodleian Library, at Oxford, written on vel- 
lum, and classed as Rawlinson, 489 ; a second (only a small 
fragment), in the British Museum, classed Clarendon, 36; a 




Of tbo 



_ third (also but a small fragment), in the same museum, written 
on paper, and classed Ayscough, 49 — 4795 ; a fourth, in the Li- 
brary of Trinity College, Dublin, written on vellimi, and 
classed H. 1. 8; and a fafth copy, on paper, in the Library of 
Trinity College (E. 3. 20), which, however, extends only to 
A.D. 665.*' 

The reason why these annals are called the Annals of 
Senait Mac Maglinusa is, because they were originally com- 
piled by Cathal Mac Guire, whase Clann or Chieftain title was 
Mac Maffhmisa, and whose residence and property lay chiefly 
in the Island of Senait (pron : " Shanat**), in Loch Erne, be- 
tween the modem Counties of Donegall and Fermanagh ; and 
it was in this island that the annals were written. They have 
received the arbitrary name of Annals of Ulster, merely be- 
cause they were compiled in Ulster, and relate more to the 
affairs of Ulster than to those of any of the other provinces. 

The death of the original compiler is recorded by his con- 
tinuator in these annals, at the year 1498, in a passage of 
which the following is a strict translation. [See original in 
Appendix, No. XLII.] 

" Anno Domini 1498. A great mournful news throughout 
all Lreland this year, namely the following: Mac Manus Ma- 
guire died tliis year, i.e., Cathal 6g (^Cathal, — ^pron : " CahaF, — 
the yoimger), the son of Cathal, son of Cathal, son of Giolla- 
Patrick, son of Matthew, etc. He was a Biatach (or Hospi- 
taller), at Seanadh, a canon chorister at Armagh, and dean in 
the bishopric of Clogher ; Dean of Lough Erne, and Rector 
of Inis Caein, in Lough Erne; and the representative of a 
bishop for fifteen years before his death. He was a precious 
stone, a bright gem, a luminous star, a casket of wisdom; a 
fruitful branch of the canons, and a fountain of charity, meek- 
ness, and mildness, a dove in purity of heart, and a turtledove 
in chastity ; the person to whom the learned, and the poor, and 
the destitute of Ireland were most thankful ; one who was full 
of grace and of wisdom in every science to the time of his death, 
m Law, divinity, physic, and philosophy, and in all the Graedhlic 
sciences ; and one who made, gathered, and collected this book 
from many other books. He died of the Galar Breac [the 
small poxj on the tenth of the calends of the month of April, 
being Friday, in the sixtieth year of his age. And let every 
person who shall read and profit by this book, pray for a 
blessing on that soul of Mac Manus". 

(87) I may mention that a sixth copy was made hy myself in 1841, for the 
Kev. Dr. Todd, from the Tellom copy in T.C.D., with all the contractions 
expanded in fulL 


Harris, in his edition of Ware's Irish Writers, p. 90, has lect. iv. 
the following notice of this remarkable man. 

" Charles [the Gaedhlic name Caihal is often so translated amkals or 
in English] Maguire, a native of the county of Fermanagh, ^"^**- 
Canon of the Church of Armagh (and Dean of Clogher), was 
an eminent divine, philosopher, and historian, and wnt Annales 
Hibemicas to his tune. They are often called Annales Sena- 
tenses, from a place called Senat-M ac-Magnus, in the County of 
Fermanagh, where the author writ them, and oftener Annales 
Ultonienses, the Annals of Ulster, because they are chiefly 
taken up in relating the affairs of that province. They begin 
anno 444, and are carried down by the author to his death, in 
1498 ; but they were afterwards continued by Roderic Cassidy 
to the year 1541. Our author writ also a book, intitled, Aen- 
ffusius Auctus, or the Martyrology of Aengus enlarged ; wherein 
from Marian Gorman, and other writers, he adds such saints as 
are not to be met with in the composition of Aengus. He died 
on the 23rd of March, 1498, in the sixtieth year of his age". 

Seanadh, or Senait, where these annals were compiled, and 
from which, as we have said, they are often called Annales 
Senatenses, was the ancient name of an island situated in the 
Upper Lough Erne, between the modem baronies of Maghera- 
stephana and Clonawley, in the County of Fermanagh. It is 
called Ballymacmanus Island in various deeds and leases, and 
. by the natives of Clonawley, who speak the Irish language ; but 
it has lately received the fancy name of Belle Isle. [See Note 
in O'Donovan's Annals of the Four Masters, at the year 1498.] 

After the death of Mac Maghnusa^ the annals were continued 
by Ruaidhridhe O'Caisidd, or Rory O'Cassidy, down to the year 
1537, or 1541, according to Ware. They were continued after 
this (I mean the Dublin copy) by some other persons, probably 
the O'Luinins, down to the year 1604, where they now end. 
I say probably by the O'Luinins, because the Dubhn copy was 
transcribed by Rtiaidhrighe^ or Rory OXuinin, as appears 
from two insertions which occur in that volume in a blank 
space, at the end of the year 1373. The first is written in a 
good hand, as old at least as the year 1600, in the following 
words : " Let every one who reads this little bit, bestow a bles- 
sing on the soul of the man that wrote it". And this is im- 
mediately followed by these words : " It is fitter to bestow it on 
the soul of Rory OLuinirij who wrote the book well". [See 
original in Appendix, No. XLIII.] 

From another note which is written in this copy, in the lower 
margin of folio 35, col. a, it is evident that the writer of this 
latter note was engaged in making a transcript of the volume 
at the time, but we have no means of knowing who he was. 



Of the 


The O'Luinins [the name is now sometimes Anglicised Lyne- 

far] were physicians, historians, and genealogists, chiefly to the 
lacGuires of Fermanagh, from the fourteenth to the seven- 
teenth century. One of that family, named Glllapatrick O'JLuu 
ntn, of Ard O'Luinin, in the Coimty of Fermanagh, chief 
chronicler to MacGuire, assisted the friar Michael O'Cleiy, the 
chief of tlie " Four Masters", in the compilation of the Leabhar 
Gabhala (or Book of Invasions and Monarchical Successions of 
Erinn), for Brian Ruadh MacGuire, first Baron of Inlskillen, in 
the year 1630 or 1631. 

'' The Bodleian MS. (Rawlinson, 489) is called the original 
copy of those annals", says Dr. O'Conor, " because, it is the 
matrix of all the copies now known to exist. But it is not 
meant that there were not older manuscripts, from which Cathal 
Maguire collected and transcribed, before the year 1498. 

" Nicolson says that the Ulster Annals begin at 444, and end, 
not at 1041, as the printed catalogues of our MSS. assert, but at 
1541. Mr. Edward LUiAvyd [the celebrated Welch antiqua- 
rian] mentions a copy of these annals which he calls Senatenscs, 
which he had from Mr. John Conry, written on vellum in a fair 
character, but imjx'ifect at the beginning and end, for it begins, 
says he, at the year 454, ten yeai*s later thtm the Duke of Chan- 
dos', and ends several years sooner, at 1492. 

" The truth is, as stated in the Renim Hibemicarum, vol. 1., 
that neither Maguire nor Cassldi was the author of these annals, 
but only the collector. Augustin Magriadan had preceded both 
in the same task, and continued to his own time, says Ware, 
the chronicle, which the monks of liis monastery in the island 
of All Saints, in the Shannon, had commenced ; and he died 
in 1405. 

" We have seen that MacGraldagh was in all probability the 
continuator of Tighemach ; but I know of no reason for assign- 
ing to him any part in the compilation of the Annals of Ulster. 

" In the Bodleian MS. (Rawlinson, 489), better known by 
the name of the Chandos MS., four folios are missing alter the 
leaf paged 50. That leaf concludes with the seventh line of the 
year 1131, and the next leaf (nmnbered 55) begins with the 
conclusion of 1155, so that there is an hiatus of 24 years. The 
copy now before us concludes with the year 1131, where tliat 
hiatus occurs. 

" The first page of the Oxford MS. is nearly obliterated. By 
some imaccountable barbarity the engraved seal of the Univer- 
sity is pasted over the written page, so as to efface all the writ- 
ing underneath: the words which are illegible there have 
been restored in this Stowe transcript, by the aid of the copy m 


the British Museum, which is imperfect and interpolated, lect. it. 
The folios of the original Bodleian are paged from 1 to 134, j^^ 
in modem Arabics, and they are rightly paged down to the akkaui of 
year 1131, after which four leaves are missing down to the ^'^^*"' 
year 1156. The leaf containing the first part of 1131, is rightly 
paged 51, and the next is rightly paged 55. How the four in- 
termediate leaves have been lost, it is impossible now to ascer- 
tain. Folio 66 is erroneously paged 67, as if one leaf were 
missing there, which is not the case. Folio 70 is paged 80, aa 
if ten leaves were missing, whereas not one is lost. One folio 
is missing from the year 1303 to 1315 inclusive, and the pag- 
ing is then incorrect to the end. In its present state the folios 
of this MS. are precisely 126. 

" We must be cautious", continues Dr. O'Conor, " in assert- 
ing that the whole of this MS. was written by one person, or 
at one time. Down to 952, the ink and characters are uniform, 
but then a finer style of writing follows down to 1001. 

" When the transcriber comes to 999, he states on the op- 

J)osite margin, that really this was the year of our aera 1000 ; 
or that the Ulster Annals precede the common asra by one year, 
— a clear proof that the transcriber was not the compiler or 
author ; for this note is in the same ink and characters with the 
text. He annexes the same remark frequently to the subse- 
quent years; as at 1000, where he says, alias 1001. 

"It is remarkable that these are uniform in antedating 
the Christian ajra by one year only, down to the folio numbered 
68, year 1263, and that there, instead of preceding our aera by 
only one year, they precede by two; so that the year 1265 is 
really 1264, as stated on the margin in Ware's hand: this 
precedence of two years is regular to 1270. From thence to 
1284, the advance is of three years; from 1284, the advance is 
of four years, down to 1303, which is really 1307. Then a 
folio is missing which has been evidently cut out, and we pass 
on to 1313, which is marked by Ware on the margin 1316, an 
advance only of three years. This advance of three years 
continues from that to 1366, which is marked on the margin by 
Ware 1370, an advance of four years again, which continues to 
1379, where the following note is in Ware's hand: — * From this 
year 1379, the computation of years is well collected*. 

" It is pretty clear that the writer of this latter part of the 
Ulster Annals, who thus antedates even the latter ages of the 
Christian sera, must be very different from the writer of the 
first part down to the year 1263. 

" Johnston has published Extracts from a Version, part Eng- 
lish and part Latin, in the British Museum, which he has in- 



Of the 



LECT. IV. serted in his * Antiquitates Celto-Normannicae', Copenhagen, 
4to, 1786, p. 57. Of this version he says very truly, that the lan- 
guage is extremely barbarous ; that it is often hard to discover 
whether the transcriber means the Scots, Mc Ercs, DaLriad, 
Cruachne, Aihacliath of Ireland, or the Scots, Mc Ercs, Dal- 
riedae, Cruithne, and Alacluoith of Britain; that it is with great 
dif&dence that he ventures to print these extracts, and that 
his principal inducement was a hope that such a specimen 
might suggest to some Irish gentleman the idea of publishing, 
at least, the more material parts of these valuable records, 
in the original. 

" After such a modest avowal, no man can find pleasure in 
noticing the many errors in Mr. Johnston s work. But histo- 
rical truth demands that those errors which affect the very 
foundations of history, should be rectified. 

"At 471, Mr. Johnston's edition states, * The Irish plun- 
dered the Saxons. Matthew, in the book of the Cuanac, 
says it was in 472'. 

"Now", continues Dr. O'Conor, "the very words of the 
original are : * Preda secimda Saxonum de Hlbemia, ut alii 
dicunt, in isto anno deducta est, ut Mocteus dicit. Sic in 
Libro Cuanac inveni*. That is, 'In 471, Ireln^d was plun- 
dered a second time by the Saxons this year, as some say, as 
Mocteus says. I found it so in the Annals of Cuanac' [sic.l^In 
Johnston's two short lines there are four material errors. — JFirst, 
he makes the Irish plunder the Saxons ; whereas the truth is, 
that the Saxons a second time plundered them. — Secondly, he 
makes the annals quote Matthew ; whereas even the interpo- 
lated copy in the museimi has Mactenus : the original is pro- 
perly Mocteus, who was an Irish writer of the fiifth century. 
Thirdly, he makes this Matthew a writer in the book of 
Cuanac. — Fourthly, he makes the book of Cuanac refer these 
transactions to 472 ! 

"At 473, Johnston's edition gives only 'The Skirmish of 
Bui' ; whereas the original has some foreign history under that 
year, and then adds : ' Quies Docci Episcopi Sancti, Brittonum 
Abbatis. [The death of Docci, a holy bishop. Abbot of the 
Britons] Dorngal Bri-Eile f. Laigniu ria n Alill Molt. 
[The Battle of Bri Eile was gained over the Leinster men 
by AliU Molt.]' 

" At 482, Johnston's edition has " The Battle of Oche. 
From the time of Cormac to this battle, a period intervened 
of 206 years'. 

" Now here the original is strangely perverted and falsified. 

"The words of the original ai*e — ' a.d. 482 — Bellum Oche 


la Lug. mac Laegaire agus le Muircearta mac Erca, in quo lect. iy. 
ceddit AUll Moll frect^ Molt^. A Concobaro filio Nesse usque ^^^^ 
ad Cormacum filium Airt amu cccviii., a Cormaco usque ad hoc akhalb o» 
bellum cxvi., ut Cuana scripsit'. [That is, a.d. 482 — ^The "**** 
Battle of Ocha by Lughaidh, the son of Laegaire, and Muir- 
ceartach, son of Earc, in which Alill Molt fell. From Concobar, 
son of Nesse, to Cormac, son of Airt, 308 years. From Cor- 
mac to this battle 116 years^ as Cuana has written.] 

"It would require'', says Dr. O'Conor, "a quarto volume 
as large as Mr. Johnston's whole work, to point out the errors 
of his edition, with such illustrations as these unexplored re- 

fions of Irish history seem to require. — The Ulster Annals", 
e continues, " are written part in Latin, and part in Irish, and 
both languages are so mixed up, that one sentence is often in 
words of both ; a circumstance which renders a faithful edition 
of the original difficult. In some instances the Irish words aie 
few, in others numerous, — ^in both, the version must be included 
in hyphens, to separate it from the text. The author of this 
Catalogue has most faithfully adhered to the original — tran- 
scribing the whole of this, and of the preceding MS. from the 
Bodleian MS., Rawlinson 489, and inserting literal versions of 
the Irish wo{^ in each sentence, so as to preserve not only the 
meaning, but the manner of the author, from the year 431 to 
1131".— Stowe Catalogue, vol. i., p. 174. 

Another copy of these annals noticed by Dr. O'Conor, " con- 
tains", he says, "117 written folios. This volume has copious 
extracts from the Bodleian original, from 1156 to 1303, in- 
clusive ; and it has the merit, sdso, of marginal collations with 
the copy in the British Museum, Clarendon, tom. 36, in A^s- 
cough's Catalogue, No. 4787 ; which appears from this collation 
to be in many places interpolated. It nas been collated, also, 
with a copy in the British Museimi, written by one O'Connel, 
who was still more ignorant than the former transcriber, as may 
be seen by inspecting the MS. — ^Ayscough, tom. xlix., 47^6". 
—Ibid., p. 176. 

[There is an English translation of the Annals of Ulster in 
the British Museum — Clarendon MS., vol. xlix., Ayscough's 
Catalogue, No. 4795 ; commencing with the coming of Palla- 
dius into Ireland, a.d. 431, and coming down to a.d. 1303 (or 
1307), as thus written; but there is a defect from 1131 to 
1156, at page 65. The writing appears to be of Sir James 
Ware's time (XVII. Century), and the Latin of the original is 
not translated. This is the volume with which Doctor O'Conor 
says that he made marginal collations of the above manuscript ; 
but it will be seen that lis library reference is Avrong, as well 
as that to the number in Ayscougn's Catalogue. 



Of the 
axkals ow 

I examined this translation with great care, and I could not 
find any translator s name to it ; no ** one O'ConneF. 1 think it 
possible that the reverend doctor never saw it. The Clarendon 
MS., xxxvi., British Museum, with wliich Dr. O'Conor says 
the Stowe copy of the Annals of Ulster was collated, is only a 
collection of short historical pieces, and extracts from imac- 
knowledged Annals. The writing is like Ware's, as may be 
seen from the volume i.. No. 4787. The reverend doctor does 
not appear to have seen this volume any more than the other ; 
or if he did really see them, it is very strange that he should 
leave his readers to believe that they were both full copies, and 
written in the original Irish hand.] 

That the reverend doctor is quite correct in these strictures 
on Johnston's publication, he has given ample proof here ; but 
his own inaccurate readings of the original text are full of con- 
tradictions, and are often as erroneous as those of Johnston ; 
and his translations and deductions are as incorrect and unjusti- 
fiable. And, notwithstanding the respect in which his name 
and that of his more accui-ate grandfather, the venerable Charles 
O'Conor of Belanagare, are held by every investigator of the 
history and antiquities of Ireland, still it must be admitted, 
that his own writings — as regards matters in the Irish lan- 
guage, in his Stowe Catalogue, and in his Rerum Hibcmicarum 
Scrip tores, — would require very copious corrections of the inac- 
curacies of text, as well as of the many erroneous translations, 
unauthorized deductions, and imfounded assumptions which 
they contain. 

To return to the Annals of Senait Mac Manus. 

The volume in vellum containing the beautiful copy of these 
annals now in the library of Trinity College, commences with 
three leaves which appear to be a fragment of a fine copy of 
Tighernach [see Appendix, No. XLIV.] After this the Annals 
of Senait Mac Manus, wliich begin with a long luie of calends 
or initials of years, some of which are very briefly filled up, but 
without dates, except occasionally the years of the world's ^e, 
while others remain totally blank. 

These Annals begin thus — "Anno ab Incamatione Domini 
ccccxxxi., Palladius ad Scotos a Celestino urbis Rome Epis- 
copo, ordinatiu: Episcopus, Actio et Valeriano Coss. Primus 
mittitur in Hibemiam, ut Cliristum credere potuissent, anno 
Theodosii Aaii." That is : " In the year from the Incarnation of 
our Lord four hundred and thu'ty-one, Palladius is ordained 
bishop to the Scoti by Celestlne, Bishop of the City of Rome, 
in the consulship of Aetius and Valerianus. He was the first 
who was sent to Ireland, that they might believe in Christ, in 
the eighth year of Theodosius". 


** Anno ccccxxxii. — Patricius pervenit ad Hibemiam in anno lkct. iv. 
Theodosii junioris, primo anno Episcopatus Sixti xlii., Rom. ^^^^^ 
EccL, sic enumerant Beda, et Marcellinus, et Isidorus in akjials or 
Chronicis suis. in xii. an. Leaghaire mic NeilV\ " Anno 432 — ^lstkb. 
Patrick came to Ireland in the ninth year of Theodosius the 
Younger, and first of tlie episcopacy of Sixtus, the forty- 
second Bishop of Rome, so Bede and Marcellinus and Isidore 
enumerate them in their Chronicles, in the twelfth year of 
Laeghaire Mac Neill". 

" Anno ccccxxxiv. Prima preda Saxonum in Hibemia. 

" Anno ccccxxxv. Mors Breasail regis Lageniae. 

" Anno ccccxxxvi. Vel hie mors Breasail". 

" Vels'', or aUases, occur very frequently in the early part of 
these annals, but they are generally written in a later and in- 
ferior hand. Doctor O'Conor notices them in the Bodleian 
copy, but has not observed whether they are written in the ori- 
ginal hand or not. 

The following additional early notices are interesting. 

" Anno 437. Finbar Mac Hui Bardene [a Saint] died. 

"Anno ccccxxxviii. Chronicon Magnum Scriptum est". 

This was the Seanchas Mor, or great law compilation, re- 
ferred to in my former lecture. 

" Anno ccccxxxix. Secundinus, Auxilius, et Iseminus mit- 
tuntur Episcopi ipsi in Hiberniam, in auxiUimi Patricii ". 

It is not until the middle of the sixth century that these an- 
nals begin to notice more than two or three events, often merely 
of an ecclesiastical character. Not even the early battles with 
the Danes axe eiven with anything more than the simple record 
of the fact, ana the chief persons concerned, or the names of 
those who fell on such occasions. Nor is it until the beginning 
of the ninth century that they commence to group events, and 
narrate them to any considerable extent; but after the year 
1000, they become diffuse enough, if not in narrative, at least 
in the mention of distinct events, and sometimes in both, par- 
ticularly as we approach the fifteenth century. 

The book is written on fine strong vellum, large folio size, 
and in a very fine st^le of penmanship. 

There is a loss of forty-eight years between the years 1115 and 
1163, the beginning of the former and conclusion of the latter 
only remaining. There is another defect between the years 1373» 
and 1379 ; ana the volume ends imperfectly with the year 1504. 

The whole manuscript volume, in its present condition, 
consists of 121 foUos or 242 pages; the first folio being paged 
12, and the last 144, from which it appears that there are 11 
folios, or twenty-two pages, lost at the beginning, and 12 folios, 



Of the 



or 24 pages more, deficient between the years 1115 and 1163. 
' The missing years between 1373 and 1379 do not inteiTupt 
the pagination, from which it may be inferred that they were 
lost from the original MS. of the Annals of Ulster, of which 
this part of the MS. is but a transcript. The first three folios 
are, I believe, a portion of the Annals of Tighemach, The 
third leaf belongs to neither compilation. The fourth leaf 
begins the MS. of the Annals of Ulster. [See Appendix, No. 

Throughout this MS. the annals have the year of our Lord 
prefixed to them, but they are antedated by one year. This error 
IS, however, generally corrected in a later hand throughout the 

Throughout the earUer portion especially of these Annals of 
Ulster, the text is a mixture of Gaedhlic and Latm, sometimes 
being written partly in the one language and partly in the 

It may be remarked also, that throughout the entire MS. 
blank spaces had been left by the origin^ scribe at the end of 
each year, and that in these spaces there have been added by a 
later nand several events, and aliases or corrections of dates. 

It will have been seen from Dr. O'Conor's remarks in the 
Stowe Catalogue, that the copy which Bishop Nicholson des- 
cribed, in his work called " Nicholson's Irish Library", was 
carried down to the year 1541, whilst the Dublin copy in its 
present state ends with 1504. [See Nicholson's Irish Library, 
p. 37.] There is, however, every reason to be certain that 
this is the identical volume or copy of the same Annals men- 
tioned by him in his Appendix (6 ; p. 243). [See discussion 
on the Annals of Loch Ch infra. J 

It may seem that I have dwelt with too much prolixity on 
the technical details of the Annals hitherto considered; but 
I believe their importance fully warrants this. They form the 
great framework around which the fabric of our history is yet 
to be built up. The copies of them which now remain are un- 
fortunately all imperfect and widely separated, in diflTerent libra- 
ries and MSS. collections ; and in the critical examination of 
'them (short as such an examination must be in lectures such 
as the present), and the collation of all the evidences we 
can bring together about them, I believe that I am doing good 
service to the future historian of Ireland. 


[IMiTor«d Jima 19, 1880.] 

The Annals (continned). 5. The Annals of Loch Ci, hitherto sonietimes 
called The Annals (rf Kilronan. Of the Plain of Magh Slecht. 6. The 
Annals of Connacht. Kemarks on the so-called Annals of Boyle. 

In my last Lecture I gave you some account of the Annals of 
Innisfallen, and those of Senalt MacManus, commonly called 
the Annals of Ulster: having on the previous day commenced 
with the earlier compilation of Tighemach. Thus we have 
disposed of the most of the earlier compilations in that list of 
the more important annals, which I named to you as the 
sources of our nistory, which it was my intention, in accordance 
with the plan of these Lectures, to bring under your notice. 

Before, however, we reach the last and greatest monument 
of the learning of the Gaedhils, called the Annals of the Four 
Masters, there remain at least four other remarkable collections 
for your consideration : the Annals of Kilronan,^^^ or rather of 
Inis Mac Nerinn in Loch C^, as they ought to be called ; the 
Annals of Boyle ; those called the Annals of Connacht ; and 
Mac Firbis' Chronicum Scotorum; and it is to these works 
that, proceeding in regular order, I shall have this evening 
to direct your attention. 

And first, of the Annals which have been known for some or the 
time under the name of the Annals of Kilronan, but which, t^^^^ 
I think, it will presently be seen should be called the Annals 
of Inis Mac Nerinn in Loch Ci. 

The only copy of these Annals known to exist at present is 
that in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, Class H. 1, 19. 
It is on vellimi, of small folio size ; the original writing in va- 
rious hands, but all of them fine and accurate. Several leaves 
having, however, been lost fi-om the original volume in various 
parts of it, the chasms are filled up, sometimes with paper and 
sometimes with vellum, and some of the missing annals re- 

(ss) It is only within the last few years that this name "Annals of Kilronan"* 
was applied to these Annals, which are referred to hy the Four Masters 
(see Ann. IV. Masters, Preface, p. xxviii.) as the < Book of the O'Duigenans 
of Kilronan'. [They are so referred to by Dr. ODonovan at p. 778 of the 
Annals, note (6) to a.d. 1013.] Kilronan was in the country of the Mac 
Dermotts, in the present County of Roscommon. 



Of the 
Ansals of 
Loch Ce. 

stored, althougli in an inferior style of penmanship. These 
restorations are principally in the handwriting of Brian Mac 
Dermot. The chief defects in the body of the book are obser- 
vable from the year 1138 to 1170, wliere thirty-two years are 
missing; and from the year 1316 to 1462, where 142 years are 
missing. The year 1468 is also omitted. 

The following notices will sufficiently show the names of the 
chief transcriber, of the owner, and the time of transcribing 
the volmne. 

At the end of the year 1061 we find this notice: — "I am 
fatigued from Brian Mac Dermot's book ; Anno Domini 1580. 
I am Philip Badley". — [See original in Appendix, No. XLV.] 

The Christian name of the scribe appears in several places 
from this to the end of the year 1588; but a memorandum at 
the end of the year 1515 is conclusive in identifying not only 
the chief transcriber, but the date of the original transcipt, as 
well as the place in which, and the person for whom, the volimie 
was transcribed or compiled : — 

" I rest from tliis work. May God grant to the man [that 
is, the owner] of this book, to return safely from Athlone ; that 
is Brian, the son of Raaidhrigh Mac Dermot. I am Philip who 
wrote this, 1588, on the day of the festival of Saint Brendan 
in particular. And Cluain Hi Bhraoin is my place". — [See 
original in Appendix, No. XLVI.] 

Of this Badley, if that be his real name, I have never 
been able to learn anything more than what he has written of 
himself in this volume. I may observe, however, that the name 
of PhiUp was not uncommon in the learned family of ODuihh- 
ghenainn or Duigenan; and Cluain I Bhraoin^ where Philip 
wrote this book, was at this time the residence of a branch of the 
O Duiblighenainn or O'Duigenans, as will appear from the fol- 
lowing entry in these Annals, in the handwriting of the owner 
of the book, Brian Mac Dermot, at the year 1581 : — " Fear- 
caogadh O'Duigenan, the son of Fergal, son of Philip, died at 
Cluain I Bhraoin\ — [See original in Appendix, No. XLVII.] 

We find, too, the name of Duhhthach O'Duigenain, set 
down as a scribe in the book at the end of the year 1224. 

The following memorandum at the end of the page at which 
the year 1462 commences (the book is not paged), gives us fur- 
ther reason still for supposing that the O'Duigenans had some 
connection with this book. It runs thus : — *' Three leaves and 
five scores of vellum that are contained in this book, per me, 
Daniel Duignan". — [See original in Appendix, No. XLVIII.] 
This memorandum is without date ; and I may observe that, as 
the book contains at present but ninety -nine of the original 


leaves, four leaves must have been lost since tliis memorandum le ct. v. 
was written. ^^^^^ 

I have not, however, quoted these memoranda merely in aknals of 
order to show by what particular scribe the Annals in question 
were written. A mistake has, it appears to me, been long cur- 
rent with regard to the identity of the MS., and I believe I am 
in a position to correct it. 

It IS my opinion that the notices just referred to are sufficient 
to show that these are not those Annals, or that * Book of the 
O Duihhgenainns of Kilronan', which was one of the books m jn- 
tioned by the Four Mastei-s as having been used by them in their 
compilation, and which extended from the year 900 to the year 
1563. The present volume begins with the year 1014, and in its 
original form ends (imperfectly) with the year 1571 ; and we 
find that one of the O'Duigenan family was a transcriber in 
the early part of it, and that it was transcribed at Cluain I 
Bhraoin. But it is, I think, more than probable that the 
volume is but a transcript of the original Book of the O'Dui- 

fenans of Kilronan, made, as far as it went, for Brian Mac 
)ermot ; and that to the text of this transcript that noble chief 
himself, and other scribes, made several additions, carrying the 
annals down to the year 1590, or two years before ms death 
in 1592. Such is the opinion at which I have arrived as to 
this manuscript. 

That the present volume was carried down to the year 1590, 
I am rather fortunately in a position to prove beyond any 
doubt, having myself discovered a part of the continuation in tlie 
British Museum in the year 1849. This part contains sixteen 
consecutive years, and part of a dislocated year, extending from 
the latter part of 1568 to 1590, but still leaving a chasm in 
the volume from 1561 to 1568. This continuation is written 
partly on vellum and partly on paper, in various hands, among 
which that of Brian Mac Dermot is still very plainly distin- 
guishable ; and the following translation of an entry, at the year 
1581, with Brian's note on it, seems to complete the identmca- 
tion of the volume : — 

** Calvagh {Calbhach)^ the son of Donnell, son of Teige 
(Tadhg), son of Cathal O'Conor, the heir of Sligo and of 
Lower Connacht, without dispute, died on the Friday between 
the two Easters [that is, between Easter Sunday and Low Sun- 
day] in this year'. — [See original in Appendix, No. XLIX.] 

To this article Brian Mac I)ermot adds the following note : — 

" And the death of this only son of Donnell O'Conor and 
M6r Ni Ruairc is one of the most lamentable events of Erinn. 
And there never came, of the descendants of Brian Luighneach 



Of the 
Anmalb or 
Loch Ck. 

O'Conor] a man of his years a greater loss than him, nor is it 
ikely that there will come. And this loss has pained the 
learts of all Connacht, and especiallj it has pained the scholars 
and poets of the province of Connacht. And it has divided 
my own heart into two parts. Uch ! Uch ! how pitiable my 
condition after my comrade and companion, and the man most 
dear and truthful to me in the world I 

" I am Brian Mac Dermot, who wrote this, upon Mac Der- 
mot's Rock ; and I am now like Olioll Oluim after his sons, 
when they were slain, together with Art Aenfhir^ the son of 
Conn of the Hundred Battles, in the battle of Magh MucruimhS 
by Mac CJon, the son of Mac Niadh, son of Lughaidh; or like 
Deirdri after the sons of Uisneach had been treacherously slain 
in Eamhain MhacJia [Emania] by Concfiohhar the son of 
Fachtna, son of Ruadh, son of RudhraidhS [Conor Mac 
Nessa] ; for I am melancholy, sorrowful, distressed, and dis- 
pirited, in grief and in woe. And it cannot be described or 
related how I feel afl^r the departure of my companion from 
me, that is the Calvach. And it was on the last day of the 

month of March that he was interred in Sliyech (Sligo)" 

[See original in Appendix, No. XLIX.] 

Mac Dermot's Rock (Carraig MhiC'Diarmada)^ and the Rock 
of Loch C^ (^Carraia Locha Ce) were the popular names of a 
castle built on an Island in Loch C^, near Boyle, in the pre- 
sent County of Roscommon. This castle was tlie chief resi- 
dence and stronghold of Mac Dermot, the native chief and 
prince of Magh jLuirg (or Moylorg), an extensive territory in 
the same County of Roscommon. 

The above Brian Mac Dermot, the owner, restorer, and conti- 
nuator of these Annals, was chief of Magh Luirg between the 
years 1585 and 1592, though in what year he succeeded his 
father, Rory {Ruaidhri), the son of Teige {Tadhg), I am not 
able to say. The father was chief in 1540 and 1542. 

Of Brian Mac Dermot himself, we find in the Annals of the 
Four Masters, — imder the year 1585 (in which year all the 
native chiefs of Erlnn were called by proclamation to a parlia- 
ment in Dublin), — that Tadhg the son of Eoghan Mac Dermot 
attended this Parliament as deputy from Mac Dermot of Magh 
Luirg ; that is, Brian the son of Rtuiidhri, son of Tadhg^ son 
of Ruaidhri Og, which Brian was then a very old man. And 
at the year 1592 the same Annals record the death of this 
Brian Mac Dermot in the following words : 

"Mac Dermot of Magh Luirg, — Brian the son of Ruaidhri, 
son of Tadha Mac Dermot, died in the month of November; 
and the death of this man was the more to be lamented, be- 


cause there was no other like him of the clann Maolrua' lect . v. 
naidh pMaelruny', the tribe name of the Mac Dermots,] to^^^,^^ 
succeed him in the chieftainship ^ — fSee original in Appendix, aknals of 
No. L.] / •■ ^ •-""«• 

It would then appear, I think, that these cannot be the so* 
called Annals of Kilronan ; but that they are those called the 
Annals of Loch C^, quoted by Sir James Ware in his work on 
the Bishops of Erinn, is by no means certain. 

Dr. Nicholson (Protestant Bishop of Derry, and afterwards 
Archbishop of Cashel), in his valuable *' Irish Historical Li- 
brary", published in Dublin in 1724, p. 36, thus speaks of the 
Annals of Loch 06, quoted by Sir James Ware: 

" The Annals of this monastery are frequently quoted by 
Sir James Ware ; but all that he ever saw was a Fragment of 
them (part in Latin and part in Irish) beginning at 1249 and 
ending at 1408. He supposes the author to have been a Canon- 
Regular of the said Abbey, and to have lived about the middle 
of the Fifteenth Century. His copy, perhaps, has had some 
farther loss since it fell mto other hands ; seemg all that can be 
now said of it is * Pars Annalium Ccenobii S. Trin, de Logh- 
kcea, incipiens ab An. 1249. et deainem An. 1381. ex Hiber- 
nieo Idiomate in Anglicum versa! ". 

Tlie same writer (Appendix No. 6, page 243) says: 

" The most valuable collection of Irisn MSS. that I have 
met with, in any private hand, here in Dublin, next to that of 
the Lord Bishop of Clogher, was communicated to me by Mr. 
John Conry ; who has great numbers of our Historico-Poetical 
Composures, and (being a perfect master of their language and 
prosodia) knows how to make the best use of them. Amongst 
these, there^s 

** 1. An ancient copy of the AnnxiUs Senatenses (Annals of 
Ulster), written on Vellum and in a fair character ; but imper- 
fect at the beginning and end : for it begins at the Year 454, * 
ten Years later than the Duke of Chaudois's, and ends (about 
50 years sooner) at 1492. 

" 2. There is also, in the same Letter and Parchment, and the 
same folio Volume, a copy of the Annals of the Old Abbey of 
Inch'Maccreenj an island in the Lake of Loghkea^ very diffe- 
rent from those of the Holy Trinity, an abbey (in the same 
Loch) of a much later foundation. This book commences at 
the year 1013, and ends with 1571. 

" 3. He has likewise the original Annals of Donegal (or the 
Quatuor Magistri), signed by tlie proper hands of the four 
Masters themselves, who were the Compilers of that Chronicle", 
etc., etc., etc. 




Of the 


Loch Cb. 

This, indeed, is a most valuable notioe from the very candid 
" Bishop Nicholson. 

The Annals of the Old Abbey of Inis Maccreen, properly 
Inis Mac Nerinn^ an island in Loch Ci^ which he mentions, 
are beyond any doubt those which I have already identified as 
such. Accordmg to Conry's report to the bishop, these Annals 
commenced with the year 1013, and ended with 1571 ; but it 
is quite clear that the year 1013 is a mere mistake for 1014, 
with which the book commences in its present, and I am sure 
in its then condition. For it commences with an account of 
the battle of Clontarf ; and as the original page is much de- 
faced and the date totally illegible, and as the date of that 
great event is given by the Four Masters under the year 1013, 
it seems probable that, without looking to the copy of the 
whole annal, and the date mentioned below, Conry gave that 
year as the commencement of the book to the bishop. The 
last page of the year 1571, with which tlie volume (without 
the British Museum addition) ends, is also ille^ble, showing 
plainly that the book had been a long time lying without a 
cover, probably in the ruined residence of some departed mem- 
ber of the Mac Dermot family, before it passed into Conry's 
hands. Still, notwithstanding that Conry gave this book the 
name of the Annals of the Abbey of Inis Mac Nerinn of Loch 
CS, it is quite clear from the circumstances under which they 
were written, that they were not the annals of that abbey, if 
any such annals ever existed. 

There is some mystery as to the way this volume passed 
from the hands of John Con^. It was, however, purchased 
at the sale of the books of Dr. John OTergus, in 1766, by 
Dr. Leland, the historian, along with the Annals of Ulster, — a 
transcript made for the doctor of the fii*st volume of the An- 
nals of the Four Masters, — and the imperfect autograph of the 
second volume, described above by Dr. Nicholson, — and placed 
by him (Dr. Leland) in the College Libmry, where the group 
may now be seen together. It is fortunate that we actually 
have still in existence a copy of the printed catalogue of the 
books of the patriotic Doctor O'Fergus, which is preserved 
along with several other memorials of him, by his wortliy great- 
grandson, my esteemed friend, James Marinus Kennedy, Esq. 
(of 47 Lower Gloucester Street, in this city), who has kindly 
permitted me to consult this interesting catalogue. On exa- 
mining it, I found included in it the Annals of Ulster, — a tran- 
script of the fii-st volume of the Annals of the Four Masters, 
by Hugh O'Mulloy, an excellent scribe, in two volumes, — and 
the imperfect autograph copy of the second volume, — among 


several other MSS. of less value, set down for sale ; but no lkct. v. 
account of the Annals of the Abbey of Liis Mac Nerinn^ men- ^^ ^^^ 
tioned by John Conry in his communication to Dr. Nicholson, ankals of 
So far indeed we have lost the direct evidence of the volume 
being that which Conry had mentioned to the bishop ; but the 
fact of its having been purchased by the College along with the 
other books and transcnpts belonging to Conry's collection, the 
identity in the years of its begmnmg and ending, and the 
original locality to which it was referred, which, though erro- 
neous, was approximately correct, can leave no rational doubt 
of its being tne reputed Annals of the Abbey of Inis Mac 
Nerinn in jLoch CS, though the internal evidences clearly prove 
it to be the Annals of the Rock of Loch CS, or Mac Dermot s 
Rock, the residence of the owner and part-compiler, Brian Mac 
Dermot, in 1590. Indeed even the wanting link above alluded 
to is suppKed in a contemporary list or catalogue of the Irish 
books sold at Dr. OTergus's sale, which is preserved in (pasted 
mto) a MS. volume in the Library of the Royal Irish Aca- 
demy (commonly known by the name of " Vallancey*s Green 
Book"), and contains the names of the persons to whom and the 
prices at which the various Irish MSS. there were sold. For 
m that list I find it mentioned that Dr. Leland bought ** No. 
2427, Annals of the 4 Masters, 3 vols, [the two volumes of tran- 
scription and one of autograph before mentioned], a fine MS., 
£7 19s."; and also, " 2410, Annals of Ulster, by the 4 Masters 
[sic], a very ancient MS. on vellum"; and "2411, Continu- 
ation of tlie Annals of Tighemach, very ancient, on vellum", 
both together for £18. The last mentioned MS. was, I have 
no doubt, the one of which we have been speaking, mistaken by 
the maker of the catalogue for a "Continuation of Tighemach", 
probably only because he could make no better guess at what 
It really was. And it is singular that this volume is now lett<3red 
"Tighemaci Continuatio" on the back (H. 1. 19, T.C.D.) 

I have thus, I think, conclusively identified the MS. spoken 
of by Dr. O'Donovan as the " Annals of Kilronan", and 1 have 
identified it as one different from the original Book of the 
O'Duigenans of Kilronan, referred to by the Four Mastera. 
Whether that MS. is or is not the same as the Annals of Loch 
Ciy referred to by Sir James Ware, does not, however, appear 
to me to be by any means clearly settled by Nicholson, the ac- 
curacy of whose aescriptions of Irish MSS. is not always im- 
plicitly to be depended on. Certainly Sir James Ware does 
quote from what he calls the Annals of Loch CS at the year 
1217, as we shall presently see, though in the passage before 
quoted from Nicholson, that writer positively says that " all he 




Of the 

AXNALfl itW 

Loch Ce. 

(Ware) ever saw was a fragment of them, begimiing at 1249 
" and ending at 1408". 

The references by Ware to these Annals are in his " History 
of the Bishops". In the first vohime of this important work 
(as edited by Walter Harris, pp. 84, 250, 252, 271), we find it 
stated on the authority of the Annals of " Lough Kee" (Loch 
Ce), that Adam O'Muirg (^Annadh O'Muireadhaigh), Bishop of 
Ardagh (Ardachadh), died in the year 1217 ; Cairbr^ O'Scoba, 
Bishop of Raphoe (Rath BhothaJ, in the year 1275; William 
Mac Casac, Bishop of Ardagh, in the year 1373; and John 
Colton, Archbishop of Armagh, in the year 1404. On refer- 
ence to our volume of Annals, we find the death of Annadh 
O Muireadhaigh and Cairhrl' O'Scoba under the respective years 
of 1217 and 1275. The other years, 1373 and 1404, are now 
lost, though these lost sheets were probably in existence in 
Ware's time. 

The following little note, written in the lower margin of the 
eleventh page of the fragment in the British JIuseum, is not 
without interest in tracing this very volume of Annals to the 
possession of the family of Sir James Ware. 

" Honest, good, hospitable Robert Ware, Esq., of Stephen's 
Green ; James Magrath is his senrant for ever to command". 

This Robert was the son of the very candid writer on Irish 
history just mentioned. Sir James Ware ; and it is pretty clear 
that tnis entry was made in the book, of which the fragment in 
the British Museimi formed a part, while it was in the hands 
of either the father or the son. 

Having thus endeavoured, and I trust successfully, to identify 
for the first time this valuable book of Irish Annals, I now pro- 
ceed to consider the character of its contents, so as to form a just 
estimate of its value, as a large item in the mass of materials 
which still exist for an ample and authentic History of Ireland. 

These Annals of Loch CS, as I shall henceforth call them, 
commence with the year of our Lord 1014, containing a very 
good account of the Battle of Clontarf ; the death of the ever 
memorable Brian Boroimhe; the final overthrow of the whole 
force of the Danes, assisted as they were by a numerous army 
of auxiharies and mercenaries; and the total destruction of 
their cruel and barbarous sway within the * Island of Saints'. 

The first page of the book is nearly illegible, but it was restored 
on inserted paper in a very good hand, at Cam Oilltriallaigh in 
Connacht, on the 1st of November 1698, by aS. Mac Conmidhe. 

The accoimt of the Battle of Clontarf just alluded to, is es- 
pecially interesting because it contains many details not to be 
foimd m any of the other annals now remaining to us. 


In chronology as well as the general character, the Annals of j-ect. v. 
Loch Ce resemble the Annals of Tighemach, the Annals of Ul- ^ ^^ 
ster, and the Chronicuni Scotorum ; but they are much more amnala or 
copious in details of the affairs of Connacht than any of our ^^° ^** 
other annals, not excepting even, perhaps, the Chronicle now 
known as the Annals of Connacht, — a collection which will 
presently engage our attention. And as all these additional de- 
tails involve much of family history and topography, every item 
of them will be deemed valuable by the diligent investigator of 
our history and antiquities. 

The dates are always written in the original hand, and in 
Roman numerals, represented by Irish letters. 

The text is all in the ancient Gaedhlic characters, and mainly 
in the Gaedhlic language, but mixed occasionally with Latin, 
particularly in recording births and deaths, when sometimes a 
sentence is riven partly in both languages, as at a.d. 1087, 
which runs thus: 

" The Battle of Connchail in the territory of Corann (in 
Sligo), was gained by Rory O'Connor of the yellow hoimd, 
son of Hugh of the gapped spear, over Hugh the son of Art 
O'Ruairc ; and the best men of the Conmaicne were slaughtered 
and slain. — [See original in Appendix, No. LL] 

" In this year was bom Torloch O'Conor''. — [See Appendix, 
No. LIL] 

The following specimen of the style and copiousness of the 
Annals of Loch Ce, may be appropriately introduced. The 
same events are given in but a few lines in the Annals of 
the Four Masters, a.d. 1256 It is the account of the cele- 
brated Battle of Afagh Slecht (or Plain of Genuflexions). — 
[See original in Appendix, No. LIH.] 

"A great army was raised by Walter Mac Rickard Mac 
William Burke, against Fedhlim^ the son of Cathal Crobhdhearg 
[or Cathal O'Connor of the red hand], and against Aedh [or 
Hugli^ the son o{ Feidhlim; and against the son of Tigheman 
O'Ruairc. And it was a long time before this period since a 
host so numerous as this was collected in Erinn, for their num- 
ber was coimted as twenty thousand to a man. And these great 
hosts marched to Magh-JEo [Mayo] of the Saxons, and from 
that to Balla, and from that all over Luighne [Leyney], and 
they ravaged Luighne in all directions around them. And they 
came to Achadh Conaire [Achonry], and sent messengers thence 
to the OMaghallaigh [O'Reillys), caUing upon them to come to 
meet them at Cros-Doirg-Chaoiny upon the south end of Brat- 
Shliabh in Tir-TuathaL And the O'Reillys came to Clachan 
Mucadha on Sliabh-an-Tarainny but they turned back without 
having obtained a meeting from the EnglisL . 



Of the 
Arnala 07 
LooH Ck. 

" It waa on that very day, Friday precisely, and the day of 
the festival of the Cross, above all dajrs, that Conchobtiar the 
son of Tigheman O'Ruairc, assembled the men of Breifni and 
ConmaicnS, and all others whom he could, under the command 
of Aedh O'Conor, as were also the best men of Connacht, and 
of the Siol Muireadhaigh [the O'Conors]. And the best (or 
noblest) that were of that nost were Conor the son of Tigher- 
nan O'Ruairc, King of the Ui Briuin and Conmaicne; Cathal 
OFlaithbheartaigh [O'Flaherty], and Murchadh Finn OFergh- 
ail; and Ruaidhri Orloinn of the wood ; and Flann Mac Otreach" 
taiah; and Z>onn dg Mac Oireachtaigh; and a great body of the 
O'Kellys ; and Mac Dermotfs three sons ; and Dermot O'Flan- 
nagan ; and Cathal the son of Duarcan OHeaghra (O'Hara) ; 
and the two sons of Tigheman O'Conor, and GioUa^a- 
Naomh OTaidhg [O'Teige.] And numerous indeed were the 
warriors of Connacht there. And where the van of that host 
overtook the O'Reillys was at Soiltean-na-nGasan; and they 
pursued them Xjo Alt Tighe Mhic Cuirin. Here the new recruits 
of the O'Reillys turned upon the united hosts, and three times 
drove them back. The main body of the hosts then came up, 
but not till some of their people had been killed, and among 
them Dermot O'Flannagan, and Mac MaoTiaigh, and Coicle 
O'CoicU [Cokely O'Cokely], and many more. 

" Both armies now marched to A It-na-h-Eilti, and to Doirin 
Cranncha, between Ath-na-Beithighe and Bel an Bheallaigh, 
and Coill Easaa^ and Coill Airthir^ upon Sliabh an larainn. 
Here the O'Reillys turned firmly, ardently, furiously, wildly, 
ungovernably, against the son of Feidhlim [O'Conor], and all 
the men of Connacht who were with him, to avenge upon them 
their wrongs and oppression. And each party then urged their 
peojple against the other, that is the Ui Briuin and the Con- 
nacht forces. Then arose the Connacht men on the one side of 
the battle, bold, expert, precipitate, ever moving. And they 
drew up in a bright-flaming, quick-handed phalanx, valiant, 
firm, imited in their ranks, under the command of their brave, 
strong-armed, youthful prince, Aedh [Hugh] the son of Feidh- 
linij son of Cathal the red-handed. And, certainly, the son of 
the high king had in him the fury of an inflamed chief, the 
valour of a champion, and the bravery of a hero upon that day. 

" And a bloody, heroic, and triumphant battle then was 
fought between them. Numbers were killed and wounded on 
both sides. And Conor, the son of Tigheman (O'Ruairc), 
King of Breifni, and Murchadh Finn OFerghaill [Murrogh 
Finn O'Fcrall], and Aedh [Hugh] O'Ferall, and Maolrua- 
naidh [Maelroney] Mac Donnogh, with many more, were left 


wounded on the field. And some of these died of accumu- lect. t. 
latcd wounds in their own houses ; among whom were Morrogh ^^^^ 
Finn O'Ferall ; and Flann Mac Oireachtaigh was killed in the ansaui o» 
deadly strife of the battle, with many others. And now what ^^" 
those who had knowledge of this battle [who witnessed thifl 
battle] say, is, that neither the warriors on either side, nor the 
champions of the great battle themselves, could gaze at the face 
of the chief king; for there were two great royal, torch-like, 
broad eyes, flaming and rolling in his forehead ; and every one 
feared to address him at that time, for he was beyond speaking 
distance in advance of the hosts, going to attack the battalions 
of the Ui Briuin. And he raised his battle-cry of a chief king 
and his champion shout aloud in the middle of the great battle; 
and he halted not from his career until the force of the Ui 
Briuin utterly gave way. 

" There were killed on this spot Cathal O'Reilly, King of 
the Muintir Maoilmordha^ and of the clan of A edh Finn, and 
his two sons along with him, namely — Donnell Roe and Niall ; 
and his brother Cuchonnacht; and Cathal Dubh O'Reilly's three 
sons, Geoflfry, Fergal, and Donnell. And Annadh, the son of 
Donnell O'Reilly, was killed by Conor, the son of Tigheman 
(O'Ruairc), and the Blind O'Reilly, that is, Niall; and Tlgher- 
nan Mac Brady, and Gilla-Michael Mac Taichly, and Donogh 
O'Bibsaigh, and Manus Mac Gilla-JDuibhy and over three score 
of the best of their people along with them. And there were 
sixteen men of the O'Reilly family killed there also. 

'* Tliis was the Battle of Magh Slecht, on the brink of Ath 
Dearg [the Red Ford] at Alt na hEillti [the Hill of the Doe] 
over Bealach na Beiihighe [the Road of the Birch]". 

The precision with which the scene of this domestic battle 
(which took place in the modern county of Cavan) is laid down 
in this article, is a matter of singular interest, indeed of singular 
importance, to the Irish historian. Ma^h Slecht [that is, the 
Plain of Adoration, or Genuflexions], the situation and bearings 
of which are so minutely set down here, was no other than that 
same plain of Magh Slecht in which stood Crom Cruach ^called 
Ceann Cruach in the Tripartite Life), the great Idol of Milesian 
pagan worship, the Delphos of our Gadelian ancestors, from the 
time of their first coming into Erinn until the destruction of the 
idol by Saint Patrick, in the early part of his aposdeship among 
them. The precise situation of this historical locality has not 
been hitherto authoritatively ascertained by any of our antiqua- 
rian investigators ; but it is pretty clear, that, if any man fairly 
acquainted with our ancient native documents, and practised in 
the examination of the ruined monuments of antiquity, so thickly 



Of the 


Locu Ce. 

Of the 
Aknals of 


scattered over the face of our country, — If, I eay, such a man, 
with this article in his hand, and an extract from the Life of St 
Patrick,^'®^ should go to any of the points here described in the 
route of the belligerent forces, he will have but little difficulty 
in reaching the actual scene of the battle, and will there stand, 
with certamty, in the veritable Magh Slecht ; nay, even may, 
perhaps, discover the identical Crom Cinmch himself, with ms 
twelve buried satellites, where they fell and were interred when 
struck down by St. Patrick with his crozier, the Bachall loMa, or 
Sacred Staff of Jesus ! 

Much could be said on the value of these and of others of our 
local and independent chronicles, concerning the vast amount 
they contain of cumulative additions to what is recorded in 
other books, and of minor details, such as could never be found 
in any general compilation of national annals. Space will not, 
however, in lectures such as these, permit us to dwell longer on 
the subject at present, and we shall, therefore, pass on at onoe 
from the Annals of Loch C6 to the consideration of those com- 
monly called by the name of the Annals of Connacht. 

The only copies of the chronicle which bears this title now 
known to exist in Ireland are, a large folio paper copy, in two 
volumes, in the library of T.C.D. [class H. 1. 1. and H. 1. 2.] ; 
and a large quarto paper copy, in tlie hbrary of the Royal Irish 
Academy, No. 25.4 ; 25.5 ; both in the same handwriting. The 
writing is tolerably good, but the orthography is often inaccurate, 
owing to the ignorance of the copyist, whose name appears at 
the end of the second volume in T.C.D. , in the following entry : 

" Written out of an ancient vellum book, and finished the 
29th day of the month of October, in the year of the age of the 
Lord 1764, by Maurice O'Gorman". — [See original in Appen- 
dix. No. LV.j 

This Maurice O'Gorman, a well-known though a very incom- 
petent scribe, flourished in Dublin before and for some time after 
this year of 1764. The Trinity College copy was made by 
him for Dr. O'Sullivan, F.T.C.D., and Professor of Law in the 
University ; the two volumes in the Royal Irish Academy, for 
the Chevalier Thomas O'Gorman, of the county of Clare, in 
the year 1783, in the house of the Venerable Charles O'Conor, 
of Belanagare, in the county of Roscommon, as appears from a 
notice in English prefixed to the first volume. The scribe's 
name does not appear in this copy. 

These annals m their present condition begin with the year of 

(»> The passage in the Life of St. Patrick will be found, with tranfilation, in 
the Appendix, No. LIV. 


OUT Lord 1224, and end with the year 1562 ; but the jeais lect. v. 
1394, 1395, 1396, 1397, are missing; and this is the more to be ^^ ^^ 
regretted as the same jears are also missing from the Annals of aknalsof 
Loch Ci. At what time, or by what authority this chronicle ^°**^^^*"' 
received the name of the Annals of Connacht, it is now, perhaps, 
impossible to ascertain. 

tjsher quotes both from the Annals of Connacht, and from 
those of Boyle (Primordia, pp. 895, 966) ; but it is to be feared 
that Usher was his own authority, as we shall see presently. 

Sir James Ware gives the name of Annals of Connacht to the 
chronicle now known as the Annals of Boyle, in these words : 
**An anonymous monk of the Coenobium Buelliensis, added an 
index to the Annals of the affairs of Connacht up to the year 
1253, at which time he lived. The MS. book exists in the Cot- 
tonian Library, the gift of Oliver late Viscount Grandison, of 
Limerick". [Ware's Irish Writers, 4to, 1639, p. 60]. And in 
Ware's Catalogue of his own manuscripts (Dublin, 4to, 1648), 
p. 14, No. 44, he says, " A copy of the Annals of Connacht, or 
of the Coenobium Buelliensis, to the year 1253. The autograph 
exists in the Cottonian Library of Westminster". 

The book of which Ware makes mention in both these extracts, 
under the names of an index to the Annals of Connacht, and as 
the Annals of Connacht themselves, and the autograph of wliich, 
he says, was then in the Cottonian Library of Westminster, is 
certamly that now known as the Annals of Boyle. The auto- 
graph which was then in Westminster is now in the British 
Museum (under the library mark of Titus A. 25), and has been 
published by the Rev. Charles O'Conor, in his Rerum Hiber- 
nicarum Scriptores. 

When alluding to these Annals of Boyle in a former Lecture, 
I was reluctantly obliged to take the Rev. Charles O'Conor's 
very unsatisfactory account of them from the Stowe Catalogue ; 
but since that time, and during the summer of the last year 
(1855), I had an opportunity of examining the original book 
itaelf in the British Museum. As there is very much to correct 
in Dr. O'Conor's account, I am tempted shortly to state here 
the result of my own examination of the MS., but I shall do so 
only in the briefest manner. 

The book (the pages of which measure about eight inches in of the 
length, by five and a-half in breadth) contains, as I find, about ^^^ '" 
130 leaves, or 260 pages; and of these the Annals form the 34 
first leaves, or 68 pages, of good, strong, but somewhat disco- 
loured vellum ; the remainder of the booK is written in the En- 
glish language on paper, and has no concern with Ireland. It 
18 written in a bold, but not elegant hand, chiefly in the old 



Of the 
Anna La or 

black letter of (as I should think) about the year 1300. The 
capital lettei-s at the commencements of years and articles, and 
sometimes proper names, are generally of the GraedhUc alphabet, 
and so gracefully formed that it appears to me unaccountable 
how the same hand could have traced such chaste and graceful 
Graedhlic and such rude and heavy black letters, in one and the 
same word. 

The annals commence fourteen years before the birth of 
Lamech, the Father of Noah ; but those years are only marked 
by the letters " KL", which stand for the kalends or first day of 
January of the year. They then give the years from Adam to 
Lamecn as 974. These blank kalends contain the dates (almost 
uninterruptedly) down to Noah ; then Abraham ; Isaac ; the In- 
carnation of oiu* Lord ; and so to the coming of St. Patrick on 
his mission into Ireland, in the fourth year of the monarch 
Laeghaire, A J). 432. Even from this tune down to their pre- 
sent termination at the year 1257, the record of events is very 
meagre, seldom exceeding a line or two, generally of Latin and 
Irish mixed, until they reach the year 1100; indeed even from 
that year down to the end of the annals, the entries are still very 
poor, and without any attempt at description. 

The years throughout, to near the end, are distinguished by 
the initial kalends only, excepting at long intervals where the 
year of our Lord and the corresponding year of the world are 
inserted. In one instance the computation is from the Passion 
of our Lord, thus : " From the beginning of the worid to the 
death of St. Martin, according to Dionisius, 5611 years; from 
the Passion of the true Lord, 415". The year of the world is 
always given according to Dionisius, but m one instance the 
Hebrew computation is followed, and this is where the chrono- 
logy begins to agree with the common era ; as thus, at the year 
939 : " Here begin the wars of Brian, the son of Kennedy, son 
of Lorcan, the noble and great monarch of all Erinn, and they 
extend as far as the year 1014 from the Incarnation of Jesus 
Christ. From the beginning of the world, according to Dioni- 
Mus, 6000 years, but according to the Hebrew, 5218 years". 

There is so much irregularity and confusion in the chronolo- 
gical progress and arrangement of these annals (a confusion 
which the Rev. Doctor O'Conor appears to me to have made 
more confused), that it would have been hopeless to attempt to 
reduce and correct them, without an expenditure of time, and a 
facility of collation with other annals, which a visit to London 
for other and weightier purposes would not admit of. Nor 
should I have deemed it necessary to revert to them a second 
time in the course of these Lectures, but that I feel bound to cor- 


rect, as far as I can, any small errors into which such distin- vect. v. 
^ahed scholars as Ussher, Ware, Nicholson, and O'Conor, may ^ ^^ 
have fallen for want of a closer examination of these annals, axnals of 

In the first place we have seen that Ussher, Sir James Ware, ®**^''** 
his editor Walter Harris, Bishop Nicholson, and Doctor O'Co- 
nor, call them the Annals of Boyle ; and it may, 1 think, be 
believed that Ussher was the father of the name, and that his 
successors followed him implicitly. 

As far as the annals themselves can show, there is nothing 
whatever in them to indicate that they are annals of Boyle, ex- 
cept the words "Annales Monasterii in BueUio in Hibemia", 
which are written on the original vellum fly-leaf at the begin- 
ning of the book, in a fine bold English hand, apparently of 
the early part of the last century. 

In a note by Doctor O'Conor on the death of Saint Maedhog 
of Ferns, at the year 600 of his published copy of these annals, 
he says, it is evident that Ussher must have had another copy 
of them in his possession, because he places the death of Samt 
Maedhog at the year 632 on their authority. Now it is singular 
enough that here the doctor is wrong and Ussher right, for the 
year of our Lord 605 appears distinctly in the original text 
m correspondence with the year of the world 5805. The doc- 
tor gives this annal 605, wnich is in Latin, correctly, but, in 
accordance with his adopted system, places it under the year 
573. The record runs thus: "In hoc anno Beatus Gregorius 
quievit. Scilicet in DCVto anno Dominice Incarnationis, ut 
Beda dicit in Historia sua. Beatus vero Gregorius XVI. annis, et 
mensibus VI. et diebus X. rexit Ecclesiam, Anni ab initio mundi 
VDCCCV". [t.«. " In this year the blessed Gregory rested. 
That is to say, m the 605th year of the Incarnation of our Lord, 
as Bede says in his History. Truly the blessed Gregory ruled the 
Church 16 years, 6 monuis, and 10 days — ^Five thousand eight 
hundred and five years from the beginning of the world".] 
' As I had occasion to fix the date of a particular occurrence in 
Irish history according to these annals, and as no other date ap- 
pears in them from 605 down to the record of that event, I 
wrote out the number of blank kalends, with a few of their lead- 
ing records down to the occurrence in which I was interested. 
Among the items that I took down was the death of Saint Maed- 
hog of Ferns, and by coimting the nimaber of kalends between 
that event and the above date of 605, I find it to be 27 ; so that 
both numbers when added make 632, the precise year at which 
Ussher places it on the authority of these annals. This then, as 
far as Dr. O'Conor's observation goes, is the book that Ussher 
quotes from. 



Of the 
Akkals or 


It is only at the year 1234 that the regular insertion of the 
day of the week on which the kalends of January fell, and the 
year of our Lord in full, begin to be inserted in the text, and these 
Doctor O'Conor gives, down to 1238 ; after which he passes with- 
out observation to the year 1240, and concludes with 1245. 

The learned doctor has fallen into a confusion of dates here, 
as the event which he places at the year 1251, and the three 
years that follow it in O'Conor, precede it in the original in re- 
gular order. 

The year 1251 is the last that can at present be read in these 
annals, but there are six distinct but illegible years after that, 
bringing down the records to the year 1257. 

There is but one occurrence recorded under the year 1251, 
and as it may be foimd, in connection with a few other facts, to 
throw some probable light on the original locality and history 
of tlie work, it may be well to ^ve it in full. The record iq 
in Latin, and runs as follows : 

" Kl. enair for Domnach,°.i°. 

"Clanis, Archidiaconus Elphinensis vir pnidens et discretus 
qui camem siiam jejimiis et orationibus macerabat, qui pauperes 
orfanos defcndebat, qui patientiae coronam observabat, qui perse- 
cutionem a multis propter justitiam patiebatur, venerabilis fun- 
dator locorum Fratemltatis sanctae Trinitatis per totam Hiber- 
niam, et specialiter fundator monasterii sanct^ Trinitatis apud 
Loch Che ubi locum sibi sepulturi elegit. Ibidem in Chnsto 
quievit Sabbato Dominice Pent, anno Domini M.CC.L°.P. 
Cujus animse propitietur Deus omnipotens in coelo cui ipse ser- 
vivit in seculo. In cujus honorem Ecclesiam de Renduin et 
Monasterium Sanctae Trinitatis apud Loch Uachtair, Ecclesiam 
Sanctae Trinitatis apud Ath Mogi, Ecclesiam Sanctae Trinitatis 
apud Kkllras edincavit, pro cujus anima quilibet Ubrum le- 
gens, dicat Pater Noster". 

[The Calends of January on Sunday, m.ccl^.i^. 

Clarus, Archdeacon of Elphin, a man prudent and discreet, 
who kept his flesh attenuated hj prayer and fasting, who de- 
fended the poor orphans, who waited for the crown of patience, 
who suffered persecution from many for the sake of justice ; the 
venerable founder of the places of the Confraternity of tlie Holy 
Trinity throughout all Ireland, especially the founder of the 
Monastery of the Holy Trinity of Loch C4, where he selected 
his place of sepulture ; there he rested in Clirist, on the Saturday 
before Pentecost Sunday, in the year of our Lord 1251. May 
the Almighty God in Heaven be propitious to his soul, whom 
he served in the world, in whose honour he built the Church of 
Renduin and the Monastery of the Holy Trinity at Loch Uach- 


tair (Upper Lake), also of tke Holy Trinity at Cellrais, for lect. v. 
whose soul let whoever reads this book say a Pater Noster.] ^^ ^^^ 

It is quite apparent from this honourable and feeling tribute axkam ov 
paid to Clarus Mac Mailin, as he is called in the Annals of ^^''^ 
the Four Masters, a.d. 1235, — but who was a member of the 
learned family of O'Mulconry, — ^that the annalist, whoever he 
may have been, had a high veneration, if not a personal friend- 
ship, for him; and it is equally clear, or at least it is much 
more than probable, that an annalist of the Abbey of Boyle, 
with which ne had no known connexion whatever, would not 
speak so warmly and affectionately of one who perhaps was 
the light of a rival establishment. 

It is certain that he was a dignitary of the ancient church of 
Elfinn, which was founded by Saint Patrick, and the oldest foun* 
dation in that district, situate on die southern borders of Mac 
Dermot's country, though not in it ; that, among several others, 
he founded the Monastery of the Holy Trinity on an Island in 
Loch C^; and that he was buried in that monastery. It is evi- 
dent that the annals in which these events and personal memo- 
rials are so affectionately and religiously recorded, must have 
belonged to the immediate locality. It is also clear that they 
are not the annals of the Island of Saints in Loch Ribh [ReeJ, 
because the annals of that island, as recorded by the Four 
Masters, came down but to the year 1227, and because that 
island did not belong to Mac Dermot's coimtry. It is equally 
clear, if we are to credit the venerable Charles O'Conor, of 
Belanagar, that they cannot be the Annals of Connacht, com- 
piled in the Cistercian Abbey of Boyle, since that chronicle 
commenced with the year 1224, and ended with the year 1546. 

We have no account of any annals of the Island of Saints in 
Loch Gamhna, and even if we had, we could not, without posi- 
tive evidence, believe that these could be they. Loch Gamhna be- 
ing in the County of Longford, a different district and province. 

Taking, then, all these circumstances into accoimt, I cannot 
avoid coming to the conclusion that this ancient and curious chro- 
nicle must have belonged to some church situated within Mac 
Dermot's country, and that probably it belonged to the Island of 
Saints in Loch C6, though we have no record of the time at 
which the church of that island became ruined and abandoned. 

I must confess that this idea would never probably have oc- 
curred to me, if it had not been suggested by what I foimd in the 
book itself; for at the lower margin of foUo 14 b, I foimd this re- 
cord, in a good hand, of the period to which it refers — 1594. 

" Tomaltach, son of Owen, son of Hugh, son of Dermod, son of 
Rory Caeeh (the blind), died in the last month of this year, 



Of the 


in his own house in Cluain FrtwicK', [See original in Ap- 
pendix, No. LVI.] 

This is a remarkable entry to be found in this book. Cluain 
Fraoichy near Strokestown, in the County of Roscommon, was 
the name of the ancient palace of the O'Oonor family. Kings of 
Connacht down to the sixteenth century; but the name of the man 
and the pedigree which are given in this obituary are not found 
among the O'Conor pedigrees, as far as I have been able to dis- 
cover, though I have examined all the accessible old genealo- 
gical tables of authority of that family ; and as there is no such 
hne of pedigree as the present to be foimd among them, it na- 
turally follows that this Tomaltach, the son of Owen, must have 
been a member of some other impoitant family situated in the 
same country, and in a residence of the same name. And such 
was the fact; for we find in Cucogry O'Clery's Book of Pe- 
digrees (R. I. Academy) the following curious line of a branch 
of the great Mac Dermot family, which must have struck off 
from the parent chieftain tree in the person of Dermod, the 
son of Rory Caech (or the blind) Mac Dermot, which Rory the 
blind must have flourished about the middle of the fifteenth cen- 
tury, as we find in the annals that his son Rory dg, or junior, 
Lord of Moylurg, died in the year 1486. 

O'Clery says : " The Sliocht Diarmada are descended from 
Dermot, the son of Rory Caech (the blind), son of Hugh, 
etc., viz. — Tomaltach^ the son of Owen, son of Hugh, son of 
Dermot, son of Rory (the blind), son of Hugh, son of Conor", 
etc. Now we find that the Tamalta^h [or Thomas], the first, 
or rather the last, link in this line of pedigi*ee preserved by 
O'Clery, is precisely the same Tomaltach whose death is so 
circumstantially recorded, in a post insertion, in what have been 
called the Annals of Boyle, at least since Ussher's time, that 
is for nearly 250 years. 

This record shows pretty clearly that at the time of making it 
the book was in the possession of the Mac Dermot family ; and 
that it was so, there are still stronger proofs in the book itself to 
show ; for in several parts of it — towards the end, but particularly 
at folios 10, 20, 30, 31, 33, — we find emendations and additions 
in the handwriting of Brian Mac Dermot, who made the addi- 
tions to the Annals of Loch Ce, which have already been no- 
ticed in speaking of that important chronicle These insertions 
are sufficient to show that the original book, now in the British 
Museum, and known as the Annals of Boyle, was at the close of 
the sixteenth century in the possession of the chief, Brian Mac 
Dermot, lord of the territory in which Boyle is situated ; and 
this would and should be received as evidence enough for their 


being the Annals of Boyle, if really any such annals had ever lect. v 
existed. There is, however, in the lower margin of foUo 30, ^^^ 
page a, or 33, page b, — ^I am not certain at present which, — a akkam or 
memorandum, m a few words, which is incontestably fatal to the ^^"^ 
name of Annals of Boyle. The words, which are written in a 
bad but old hand, run thus: "The historical book of the 
Island of the Saints". — [See original in Appendix, No. LVII.] 
And to connect them still further with some Island of the 
Saints, we find the following words in a food hand of the lat- 
ter part of the sixteenth century, in the lower margin of folio 
13, D, of the book: " Four score years from the deam of Saint 
Patrick to the death of Dermot Mac Cerbhaill [monarch of 
Erinn], according to the Maityrology of the Island of the 
Saints''. — [See original in Appendix, No. LVIII.] 

It must be confessed that, although these words prove clearly 
enough that this book of annals did not belong to the Abbey of 
Boyle, still they do not show with equal clearness to what place 
they really did belong, any more than that they must, according 
to tnese evidences, have belonged to some place in or about Loch 
C6, in Mac Dermot's country. 

That they belonged to some island is plain enough, and that 
they are not the Annals of the Island of the Saints in Loch 
Ree in the Shannon, is evident, as the Four Masters say of that 
book of annals, that it came down but to the year 1227, whereas 
these came down to 1257 ; and if we may rely on the word 
of the venerable Charles O'Conor of Belanagar, they cannot 
be the Annals of Connacht; for in a list of Irish manuscripts 
in his possession about the year 1774, and which list is in nis 
own handwriting, I find — "The Annals of Connacht, compiled 
in the Cistercian Abbey of Boyle, beginning at the year 1224 
and ending 1546". [M.S. in the Royal Irish Academy, No. 
23. 6; p. 126.] 

By the aid of my learned and esteemed friend, Denis H. 
Kelly, Esq., of Castle Kelly, in the county of Roscommon, I 
find that there really is an OUean na Naemh, or Saints* Island, 
in Loch C^, close to Mac Dermot's rock or castle, and about two 
miles from Boyle ; and that the local tradition is, that the ruined 
church which still remains on it, was founded by Saint Colum 
Cille, about the same time, probably, that he founded the church 
of JEas Mac nEirc^ at the mouth of the river Boyle, in the same 
neighbourhood, and the church on Oilcan na Imemh^ or Saints' 
Island in Loch Gamhna^ in the County of Longford. Tradition 
also has it that the church was occupied by "Cmdees", or CeilidS 
Di^ down to the twelfth century. 

That Saint Colum Cille founded a church on some island in 




Of tbe 


Loch Cij some time about the year 550, will also clearly be 
seen from the following extract from O'Donnell^s remarkable 
collection of ancient tracts, relating to the life and acts of that 
eminent saint. 

**On one occasion that Colum Cille was staying upon an is- 
land in Loch Ce in Connacht, and a poet and man of science 
came to visit him, and conversed with mm for a while, and then 
went away from him. And the monks wondered that Colum 
Cille did not ask for a specimen of his composition from the 
poet, as he was wont to ask from every man of science who 
visited him. And they asked him why he had acted so. Co- 
lum Cille answered them, and said, that it would not be proper 
for him to ask for pleasant things from a man to whom sonow 
was near at hand ; and that it should not be long before they 
should see a man coming unto him (Colum Cille) to tell him 
that that man had been killed. Scarcely had this conversation 
ended when they heard a shout at the port of that island (that 
is, the landing place on the main land opposite to itV and 
Colum Cille said that it was with an account of the killing of 
the poet the man came who raised that shout. And all was 
verified that Colum Cille had said ; and the names of Grod and 
of Colum Cille were mamified on that account". — [See original 
in Appendix, No. LIXJ 

From this notice, as well as from several other references that 
could be adduced, it is certain that Saint Columba founded a 
monastery on the island in Loch Cd, which is now called the 
Island of the Saints. 

The Annals of the Four Masters, in the Testimonium, and 
again at the year 1005, mention and quote the Annals of the 
Island of Saints in Loch Ribh [Ree]. (Loch Ree is an expan- 
sion of the river Shannon between Athlone and Lanesborough.) 
And the second continuation after the year 1405 of the chronicle 
now called the Annals of Tighemach, states in that work, that 
Augustin Mac Grady (the continuator probably, from 1088 
to 1405), was a canon of the Island of the Saints, but he does 
not say where this island was situated. There can be no doubt, 
however, that this Island of the Saints was the one situated in 
Loch Ribh [Ree], to the north of Inis Clothrann, and belong- 
ing to the County of Longford, — ^an island which still contains 
venerable though ruined monuments of ancient Cathohc piety 
and taste. 

It is stated by Colgan, Ware, and Doctor Lanigan, that Inu 
Ainghiuj an island situated in the Upper Shannon, above Ath- 
lone, and belonging to Westmeath, was this Island of the 
Saints. This, however, is not correct, as tliat island continued 


to bear its original name down to a recent period, — as it does lbct. t. 
still with the Irish-speakinff neighbours, tnough it is called ^ ^^^ 
Hare Island by English speakers. anhals or 

Archdall, in his Monasticon, says that the Island of the Saints ^^^ 
in Loch Gamhna in Longford, on which Saint Colmn Cille 
founded his church, was anciently called Inis Ainghin; but I 
have shown in a former lecture, from indisputable authority, 
that the church of Inis Ainghin^ the ruins of which remain still, 
was foimded by the great Saint Ciaran, before the founding of 
his celebrated ecclesiastical city of Clonmacnois. 

To return to the Annals of Connacht, These annals, or of the 
rather the existing fragment of them, extend from the year ^^^^ 
1224 to the year 1562. 

It is unfortunate that neither the transcriber, nor the person 
for whom they were transcribed, has left us any notice of the 
extent or history of the old vellimi MS. from which they were 
copied. There is reason, however, to beUeve that they are a 
frs^ment of tiie book of Annals of the O'Duigenanns, of Kil- 
ronan, in the county of Roscommon, mentioned, as we have 
abready said, by the Four Masters as having been used by them 
in their great compilation, and which extended from the year 
900 to the year 1563. 

The original of this fragment, however, was in the late Stowe 
collection, and passed, by purchase, into the hands of Lord 
Ashbumham, an English nobleman, in whose custody they are 
as safe from the rude gaze of historical investigators as they were 
when in the hands of His Grace of Buckingnam, who got pos- 
session of them by accident, and sold them as part of the ducal 
furniture, to the prejudice of the late Mathew O'Conor, Esq., 
of Dublin, the true hereditary owner. 

The following observations on this ancient vellum fraOTient 
will be foimd in the Rev. Dr. O'Conor's catalogue of the otowe 
manuscripts, vol. I., no. 9, p. 73. 

"Annals of Connacht, fono, parchment. — The written pages 
are 174, beginning with the year 1223, and ending with 15o2. 
Ireland produces no chronicle of the affairs of Connacht to be 
compared with tiiis. The narrative is in many instances cir- 
cumstantial ; the occurrences of the different years in every part 
of the province are noticed ; as are the foundations of castles and 
churches, and the chronology is every where minutely detailed. 

"There is no history of tne province of Connacht; neither is 
there of any town or district of that most populous part of 
Ireland, except this unpublished chronicle. 




Of tbe 



"Tkis chronicle is, therefore, invaluable. Many are the in- 
ducements which it holds out to dwell upon some of its events ; 
many the notices which would inform and instruct the people 
to whose country they refer. But in the vast variety of matter 
hitherto unpublished, the difficulty of making a selection, and the 
danger of exceeding the limits of a catalogue, forbid the attempt. 

"Those who have been misled by elaborate discussions on the 
antiquity of Irish castles and churches, will find the errors of 
ponderous voliunes corrected in this MS. with a brevity which 
leaves no room for doubt, and an accuracy which leaves none 
for conjecture. The pride and dogmatism of learning must bow 
before the 'barbarous narrative which gives the following infor- 

[Here follow the dates of the creation and destruction of cas- 
tles and monasteries from the year 1232 to 1507, with some 
particulars respecting them, after which the article concludes in 
the following words :] 

" It is to be lamented that the first part of the Annals of Con- 
nacht are missing in this collection ; they are quoted by Ussher 
in his Primordia, and confoimded with the Annals of Boyle by 
Nicholson". [Nicholson, p. 34.] 

The same learned writer gives also the following extract, 
original and translation, in illustration of his observations on 
these annals, at page 76 of the above-mentioned volume : 

"a.d. 1464, Tadhg O Conor died, and was buried in Ros- 
common, the nobility of Connacht all witnessing that inter- 
ment ; so that not one of the Connacht kings, down from the 
reign of Cathal of the red hand, was more honourably interred ; 
and no wonder, since he was the best of the kings of Connacht, 
considering the gentleness of his reign. Tlierc was no king of 
Connacht after him — they afterwards obtained the title of 
O'Conor, and because they were not themselves steady to each 
other, they were crushed by lawless power and the usurpations 
of foreigners. May God forgive them their sins. Domine ne 
status nobis hoc peccatum. This extract is taken from the 
book of Kilronan, which has the approbation of the Four Mas- 
ters annexed to it, by me Cathal O'Conor (of Belanagare), 2 
August, 1728". 

It is very plain from the style of this article, in the Graedhlic 
of Mr. O'Conor of Belanagare, that it was an abstract of the ori- 
ginal record of this event, made by himself, and this will appear 
more decidedly from the following translation of the entire 
article, made by me from the copy of the book which he had 
then before him, which he calls the Annals of Kilronan, and 
which we have now, under the name of the Annals of Connacht : 


" A.D. 1464. Tadhg O'Conor, half-king of Connaglit, mor- lect. t. 
tuus est on the Saturday after first Lady Day in autumn, et ~ 
sepultus in Roscommon, so honourably and nobly by the Sil ahhaL o» 
Muiredhaigh, such as no king before him, of the race of Cathal ^<*™^<'"- 
of the Red Hand, for a long time before had been. Where 
their cavalry and ffallowglasses were in full armour around the 
corpse of the high King in the same state as if they were going 
to battle ; where their green levies were in battle array, and the 
men of learning and poetry, and the women of the Sil Muired- 
haigh were in countless flocks following him. And countless 
were the alms of the church on that day for the [good of the] 
corpse [soul] of the high king, of cows, and horses, and money. 
And he had seen in a vision Michael [the Archangel] leading 
him to judgment". [See original in Appendix, No. LX.] 

The Annals of Loch CS, which have been erroneously called 
the Annals of Kilronan, dispose of this article in three hnes, re- 
cording merely the death, at this year, of " Tadhg the son of 
Torlogh Roe O'Conor, half-king of Oonnaght, a man the most 
intelligent and talented in Oonnaght, in his own time". [See 
original in Appendix, No. LXI.] 

It was from this man's mausoleum that the stones with sculp- 
tured gallowglasses were procured for the Antiquarian Depart- 
ment of the late Great Irish Exhibition (1853). They nave 
been again very properly restored to their original place ; but 
surely some individual or society ought to procure casts of them 
for our public museums. 

And here, before we pass from this remarkable extract, can 
we fail to be struck by the feeling terms in which the venerable 
Charles O'Conor sighs for the fallen fortunes of his house and 
family, and sighs the more, as their unfidthfulness to each other 
was the cause of their decay and of their subjection, and that 
of their country, to a comparatively contemptible foreign foe ? 
This is a singular admission on the part of the best Insh his- 
torian of his time, — but it is a fact capable of positive historical 
demonstration, even from these very annals, — that the downfall 
of the Irish monarchy and of Irish independence waa owing 
more to the barbarous selfishness of the house of O'Conor of 
Connaght, and their treachery towards each other, with all the 
disastrous consequences of that treachery to the coimtry at large, 
than to any other cause either within or without the kingdom 
of Ireland. 

It must appear very clear, from the extract we have quoted 
from Mr. O 'Conor, that the Annals of Kilronan, from which he 
made it, — ^the very book mentioned by the Four Masters, — was 
in existence in some condition, and in his possession, so late 

8 B 



igQT.v. as the year 1728. And as Mr. O'Conor's books were not scet- 
of fhe tered during his own long life, nor until the chief part of them 
AiwAi* 07 were carried to Stowe by his grandson, the late Kev. Charles 
O'Conor, it can scarcely admit of doubt that the vellum book, 
which the latter writer describes as part of this collection in the 
Stowe catalogue, must be the book of Kilronan from which the 
former made the extract. 

Those Annals, according to the Testimonium to the Annals 
of the Four Masters, extended from the year 900 to the year 
1563. How the first three hundred years of these annals could 
have disappeared, we have now no means of ascertaining ; but 
it is clear that they were missinff at the time that O'Gorman 
made his transcript, else he would have copied them with the 
remainder of the book. 

The following notices, in English, appear in the copy of these 
annals in the Royal Irish Academy, in the handwriting, I think, 
of Theophilus OTlannagan. 

On the fly-leaf of the first volume (there are two volumes), 
we find this entry : — " The Annals of Connacht, transcribed 
from the original in the possession of Charles O'Conor of Be- 
lanagar, Esq., of the house of O'Conor Dim, at the expense of 
the Chevalier Thomas O'Gorman, Anno Domini 1783". 

Of the year 1378 there remains but the date and one line, 
with the following notice, in the same English hand : " N.B. The 
remainder of this Annal, together with the years 1379, 1380, 
1381, 1382, 1383, 1384, are wanting to the Annals of Con- 
nacht, all to the following fragment of the year 1384, but they 
may be filled from the Four Masters, who nave transcribed the 
above Annals". 

Again, at what appears to be the end of the year 1393, the 
following notice is foimd in the same English hand: "N.B. The 
years 1394, 1395, 1396, 1397, are wanting in the original, but 
may be filled from the Four Masters". 

And, again, at the end of the year 1544, we find this notice 
in the same English hand : " N.B. Here end the Annals of Con- 
nacht, the following annal (1562) has been inserted by a dif- 
ferent hand". 

The first of these notices is sufficient to show that this was the 
same book from which Charles O'Conor made the extract at the 
year 1464, and he says that that was the Book of Kilronan, with 
the approbation of the Four Masters appended to it ; ai\d it ap- 
pears firom the third or last notice, that not only had the firet 
three hundred years disappeared from the book, but also the 
years from 1544 to 1563, the last year in it, according to the 
Four Masters. 


It may, however, be doubted whether the Four Masters did lect. v. 
not count the years in this book, from the first to the last, with- 
out pausing to notice any defect, or number of defects, in it, and anhals of 
that the last year of it m their time was the year 1563. We ^*^^"- 
believe that the Annals of Senait Mac Manus, now known as the 
Annals of Ulster, had, when in their hands, two deficiencies, 
one of them greater than the defect here between 1544 and 1562, 
and that tliey take no notice whatever of it. 

At what time local annals came to receive provincial names — 
such as the Annals of Ulster, the Annals of Connacht, etc. — 
I cannot discover. Such names, as far as I recollect, are only 
found in the works of Ussher, Ware, and their followers ; the 
Four Masters do not distinguish by provincial names any of 
the old chronicles from which they compiled, and indeed it 
would be absurd if they had done so, as it might happen 
that any or each of the provinces might have several books of 
annals, none of which would be exclusively devoted to the re- 
cords of provincial transactions. Finding this book, therefore, 
known as the Annals of Connacht, is no evidence whatever of 
its not being the Book of Kilronan, or any other of the old 
chronicles mentioned by the Four Masters, with which it may 
be found to agree in extent. 

The followmg passage from the Rev. Dr. 0*Conor's Stowe 
catalogue will show, among a thousand others, how cautious we 
ought to be in receiving, as facts, opinions and observations on 
subjects of this difficult kind, written hurriedly, or without ex- 
anunation. In describing volume No. 3 of the Stowe collection 
of Irish manuscripts, page 50 of the catalogue, the writer says: 

"Foho 50. An Irish chronicle of the kings ofConnaught, 
from the arrival of Saint Patrick, with marginal notes by Mr, 
O'Conor of Belanagar, written in 1727. This chronicle begins 
firom the arrival of Saint Patrick, and ends with 1464. It was 
transcribed from the ancient manuscript of the Church of Kil- 
ronan, called * The Book of Kilronan', to which the Four Mas- 
ters affixed their approbation in their respective hands, as stated 
in this copy, folio 28". 

Now it IS plain that the reverend doctor has added to the words 
of his grandfather here, or that the latter, which is very impro- 
bable, wrote what was not the fact, — namely, that he drew this 
chronicle of Connacht kings, from the commg of Saint Patrick 
to the year 1464, from the Book of Kilronan, since we have it 
on the authority of the Four Masters, that this book, not of the 
church of Kilronan, but of the O'Duigenanns of Kilronan, went 
no further back than the year 900, or nearly 500 years after 
the coming of Saint Patrick, 


LBCT. ▼. To sum up, then, it would aeem that this old manuscript in the 
Of the Stowe collection, must be a fragment of one of two books which 
AwHALs Of the Four Masters had in their possession, namely, the Book of 
oBHACHT. ^^ O'Mulconrys, which came from the earliest times down to 
the year 1505, and which- was, probably, added to aflerwards, 
like the Annals of Ulster, down to its present conclusion ; or 
the Book of the O'Duigenanns, of Kilronan ; and if the elder 
O'Conor was correctly informed, and that he is correctly re- 
ported by his grandson, it was without any doubt the latter. 
We must observe, however, that the elder O'Conor, in his list of 
his own MSS., where he calls this book the Annals of Connacht, 
speaks of it as compiled in the Cistercian Abbey of Boyle. 

It is remarkable too, that we find in this book, at the end of 
the jrear 1410, the following entry: ^^Marianus filius Tathei 
O'Beime submersis est on the 14th of the kalends October. 
Patin qui scripsit''. Now there is Uttle doubt that this "Patin'' 
was Padin [radeen] O'Mulconry, the poet, who died in the 
year 1506. 

Again, we find the name of Nicholas O'Mulconry at the end 
of the year 1544, in such a position as to induce the belief that 
he was the writer of the preceding annal ; or at least, as in the 
preceding case, of the concluding part of it. So that if the 
elder O'Conor be correct in his own written words, this book 
really consists of the Annals of Boyle, or else a fragment of the 
Book of the O'Mulconrys : but that book came down but to the 
year 1505. Had we the original manuscript to examine, it 
could be easily seen whether these were strange insertions or not ; 
and I only desire to put these facts on record here from O'Gor- 
man's transcript, hopmg that they may be found horeafter useful 
to some more favoured and accomplished investigator. 

To some of my hearers, the minute examination I have thought 
it necessary to make before them, of the identity and authority 
of the several important manuscripts wliich have engaged our 
attention, may, perhaps, have seemed tedious. Yet it is not 
merely for the salce of thus recording in a permanent shape the 
information which I have collected on these subjects, that I have 
taken this course. It is chiefly because tlie earnest student in 
this now almost imtrodden path of historical inquiry (and I hope 
there are many among my hearers who desire to become earnest 
students of their country's history), will find in the examples I 
am endeavouring to trace for him, of the mode in which alone 
our subject must be investigated, the best introduction to a seri- 
ous study of it. And it is only by such careful canvass of au- 
thorities, by such jealous search into the materials which have 


been handed down to us, that we can ever hope to separate the lect. y. 
true from the false, and to lay a truly sound and reliable founda- IITTZ77 

/» 1 /» T XT' n Ts • •*"® Annals 

tion for the superstructure ot a complete History ot Ennn. as matenaiu 
For the present, you will remember, I am occupied in giving ^^^^*^^- 
you an account of the chief collections of annals or chronicles 
m which the skeleton of the events of Gaedhlic History is pre- 
served with greater or less completeness ; and that you may un- 
derstand the value and extent of the reliable records of this kind 
that remain to us, it is the more necessary that I should go into 
some details, because there is no published account of, or guide 
to, this immense mass of historical materials. But I shall not 
neglect to point out to you also, how these dry records may be 
used in the construction of a true history, as vivid in its pictures 
of life, as accurate and trustworthy in its records of action. And 
before this short course terminates, I hope to satisfy you that 
collateral materials existt also in rich abundance, for the illustra- 
tion and completion of that history in a way fully as interest- 
ing to the general Irish reader as to the mere philologist or 


CDeHTcnd Jaae Sft, 18S&J 

The Annals (continued). 7. The Chronicom Scotoram of Doald Mac Fizbia. 
Of Mac Firbis, his life and death, and his works. 8. The Annals of Lecain* 
Of the Story of Queen Gormiaith. 9. The Annals of Clonmacnoifl. 

If we followed exactly a clironological order, the next great 
record which should claim our attention would be the Annals 
of the Four Masters ; but the importance and extent of that im- 
mense work demand, at least, the space of an entire lecture; and 
I shall, accordingly, devote the greater part of the present to 
the consideration of an almost contemporary compilation, — the 
last but one of those I have already named to you, — the Chboni- 
CUM ScoTORUM of the celebrated Duald Mac Firbis (Dubhal- 
tach Mac Firbhisigh). 
Existing Of tills chronicle there are three copies known to me to be in 

chrokJcum ^^stence. One, the autograph, in the library of Trinity College, 
scoTOBCM. Dublin ; and two in the library of the Royal Irish Academy. 
Of the latter, one is in the handwriting of John Oonroy, whose 
name has been mentioned in a former lecture, in connection with 
this tract and the Annals of Tighemach ; the second is a copy 
lately made in Cork, by Paul O'Longan, from what source I am 
not able to say with certainty, but I believe it to have been from 
a copy made by his grandfather, Michael O'Longan, in Dublin, 
about the year 1780 ; and if I am correct in this opinion, there 
are four copies in Ireland, besides any that the present O'Lon- 
gans may have made and sold in England. 

This chronicle has been abeady mentioned in our account of 
the Annals of Tighemach, and as nothing of its history is known 
to me but what can be gathered from the book itself, and the 
hand in which the autograph ^or Trinity College copy) is written, 
I 1 proceed without further aelay to the consideration of that 


The Trinity College MS. is written on paper of foolscap size, 
like that upon which the Annals of Tighemach in the same vo- 
lume are written, but apparently not so old. It is in the bold 
and most accurate hand otDubJudtach (sometimes called Duvald, 
Duald, or Dudley) Mac Firbis, the last of a long line of histo- 
rians and chroniclers of Lecain Mic Fhirbhisigh, in the barony 
of Tir-Fhiachradh, or Tireragh, in the county of Sligo. 


Duald Mac Firbis appears to have been intended for the he- lect, vi. 
reditaiy profession of an antiquarian and historian, or for that ^ ^^^^^ 
of the Fenechas or ancient native laws of his country (now im- mm Firbis. 
properly called the Brehon Laws). To qualify him for either 
of these ancient and honourable professions, and to improve and 
perfect his education, young Mac Firbis appears at an early age 
to have passed into Munster, and to have taken up his residence 
in the School of law and history, then kept by the Mac -^gans, 
of Lecain, in Ormond, in the present county of Tipperary. He 
studied also for some time, either before or after this, but I be- 
lieve after, in Burren, in the present county of Clare, at the not 
less distinguished literary ana legal school of the O'Davorens ; 
where we find him, with many other young Irish gentlemen, 
about the year 1595, under the presidency of Donnell O'Davoren. 

The next place in which we meet Mac Firbis is in the col- 
lege of Saint Nicholas, in the ancient town of Galway ; where 
he compiled his large and comprehensive volume of redigrees 
of ancient Irish and Anglo-Norman families, in the year 1650. 

The autograph of this great compilation is now in the posses- me Book of 
sion of the Earl of Roden, and a fac-simile copy of it was made ^w fSSs?' 
by me for the Royal Irish Academy in the year 1836. Of this 
invaluable work, perhaps the best and shortest description that 
I could present you with, will be the simple translation of the 
Title prefixed to it by the author, which runs as follows [See 
original in Appendix, No. LXII.] : 

"The Branches of Relationship and the Genealogical Rami- 
fications of every Colony that took possession of Erinn, traced 
fi-om this time up to Adam (excepting only those of the Fomo- 
rians, Lochlanns, and Saxon-Galls, of whom we, however, treat, 
as they have settled in our coxmtry) ; together with a Sanctilo- 
gium, and a Catalogue of the Monarchs of Erinn ; and finally, 
an Index, which comprises, in alphabetical order, the surnames 
and the remarkable places mentioned in this book, which was 
compiled by Dubhaltach Mac Firhhisigh of Lecain, 1650. 

"Although the above is the customary way of giving titles to 
books at the present time, we will not depart from the following 
of our ancestors, the ancient summary custom, because it is the 
plainest; thus: 

"The place, time, author, and cause of writing this book, 
are : — ^the place, the College of St. Nicholas, in (jalway ; the 
time, the time of the religious war between the Catholics of 
Ireland and the Heretics of Ireland, Scotland, and England, 
particularly the year 1650 ; the person or author, Dubhaltach^ 
the son of Gilla ha Mot Mojo Firbhisiffh, historian, etc., of 
Lecain Mac Firbis, in Tireragh, on the Moy ; and the cause of 


LECT. VI. writing the book is, to increase the glory of God, and for the in- 
TheBookof formationof the people in geW". , t • i . 

Pedigrees of It was to Dt, Jfetne that the Council of the Royal Insh Aca- 
'^ ** demy entrusted the care of having the copy of this book made, 
which I have just alluded to ; and, afterwards, on the occasion 
of laying that copy before them, he read an able paper, which 
is published in the eighteenth volume of the Transactions of the 
Academy, on the character and historic value of the work, and 
on the little that was known of the learned author's history. 
Of the death In the course of his remarks, this accomplished writer says : 
iuw i^bis. "To these meagre facts I can only add that of his death, which, 
as we learn from Charles O'Conor, was tragical, — ^for this last of 
the Mac Firbises was unfortunately murdered at Dunflin, in the 
county of Sligo, in the year 1670. The circumstances connected 
with this event were known to that gentleman, but a proper re- 
spect for the feelings of the descendents of the murderer, who 
was a gentleman of the coimtry, prevented him from detailing 
them. They are, however, still remembered in the district in 
which it occurred, but I will not depart from the example set 
me, by exposing them to public light". 

It was quite becoming Dr. Petne's characteristic delicacy of 
feeling to foUow the cautious silence of Mr. O'Conor in rela- 
tion to this fearful crime. Now, however, there can be no 
offence or impropriety towards any living person, in putting on 
record, in a few words, the brief and simple facts of the cause 
and manner of this murder, as preserved in the living local 
tradition of the country. 

Mac Firbis was, at that time, imder the ban of the penal laws, 
and, consequently, a marked and almost defenceless man in the 
eye of the law, whilst the friends of the murderer enjoyed the 
full protection of the constitution. He must have been then past 
his eightieth year, and he was, it is believed, on his way to Dub- 
lin, probably to visit Robert, the son of Sir James Ware. He 
took up his lodrings for the ni^ht at a small house in the little 
village of Dim Flm, in his native county. While sitting and 
resting himself in a little room off the shop, a young gentleman, 
of the Crofton family, came in, and began to take some liberties 
with a young woman who had care of the shop. She, to check 
his freedom, told him that he would be seen by the old gentle- 
man in the next room ; upon which, in a sudden rage, he snatched 
up a knife from the counter, rushed furiously into the room, and 
plunged it into the heart of Mac Firbis. Thus it was that, at 
the hand of a wanton assassin, this great scholar closed his long 
career, — the last of the regularly educated and most accom- 
plished masters of the history, antiquities, and laws and lan- 
guage of ancient Erinn. 


But to return lect. vi. 

Besides his important genealogical work, Mac Firbis compiled ^^ ^^^ ^,^ 
two others of even still greater value, which unfortunately are nous work* 
not now known to exist : namely, a Glossary of the Andent Mac Firtis. 
Laws of Erinn ; and a Biographical Dictionary of her ancient 
writers and most distinguished literary men. Of the former of 
these, I have had the good fortune to discover a fragment in the 
library of the Dublin University (class H. 5. 30) ; but of the 
latter, I am not aware that any trace has been discovered. 
There are five other copies of ancient glossaries in Mac Firbis's 
handwriting preserved in the Dublin University library (all 
in H. 2. 15). Of these, one is a copy of Cormac's Glossary, 
another a copy of his tutor Donnell O'Davoren s own Law Glos- 
sary, compiled by him about the year 1595; besides which, 
separate fragments of three Derivative Glossaries, as well as 
a fragment of an ancient Law Tract, with the text, gloss, and 
commentary properly arranged and explained. So that in all 
there are six glossaries, or fragments ol glossaries, in his hand- 
writing in T.U.D. It is in the introduction to his great book 
of Geneaologies that he states that he had written or compiled 
a Dictionary of the "Brehon Laws", in which he had explained 
them extensively; and also a catalogue of the writings and 
writers of ancient Erinn ; but, with the exception of the frag- 
ments just referred to, these two important works are now im- 
known. [And I may here mention, that I have copied out 
these precious fragments of his own compilation in a more acces- 
sible form, for the Dublin University.] Besides these MSS. at 
home, I may mention that there is in the British Museum also 
a small quarto book, containing a rather modem Martyrology, or 
Litany of the Saints, in verse, chiefly in Mac Firbis's hand. 

Mac Firbis does not seem to have neglected the poetic art 
either, for I have in my own possession two poems, of no mean 
pretensions, written by him on the O Seachnasaigh (O'Shaugh- 
nessys) of Gort, about the year 1650. 

Of Mac Firbis's translations from the earlier Annals we have 
now no existing trace. That he did translate largely and gene- 
rally we can well understand, from the following remarks of Har- 
ris m his edition of Ware's Bishops, page 612, under the head 
of Tuam : — 

"One John was consecrated about the year 1441. [Sir 
James Ware declares he could not discover when he died ; and 
adds, that some called him John de Burgo, but that he could 
not answer for the truth of that name.] But both these parti- 
culars are cleared up, and his immediate successor, named by 
Dudley Firbisse, an amanuensis, whom Sir James Ware em- 


LBCT. VT. ployed in his house, to translate and collect for him from the Irish 
Of the ra ^^SS., onc of whosc pieces begins thus, viz.: 'This translation 

riouB works bcginncd was by Dudley Firbisse, in the house of Sir James 
Mac^bu. • Ware, in Castle Street, Dublin, 6th of November, 1666', which 
was twenty-four days before the death of the said knight* The 
annals or translation which he left behind him, beffin in the year 
1443, and end in 1468. I suppose the death of his patron put 
a stop to his further process. Not knowing from whence he 
translated these annals, wherever I have occasion to quote them, 
I mention them under the name of Dudley Firbisse''. 

Again under the head of Richard O'Ferrall, bishop of Ar- 
dagh, page 253, Harris writes: 

"In MS. annals, intitled the Annals of Firbissy (not those of 
Gelasy [^Gilla Isa] Mac Firbissy, who died in 1301, but the 
collection or translation of one Dudley Firbissy), I find mention 
made of Richard, bishop of Ardaffh, and that he was son to the 
Great Dean, Fitz Daniel Fitz John Golda O'Fergaill, and his 
death placed there under the year 1444". 

Of those Annals of Gilla Isa (or Gillisa) Mac Firbis of 
Lecan, who died in 1301, we have no trace now; it is probable 
that they were the Annals of Lecan mentioned by the Four 
Masters as having come into their hands when their compilation 
from other sources was finished, and from which they added 
considerably to their text. 

Of Duald Mac Firbis's translation, extending from the jrear 
1443 to 1468, there are three copies extant, one in the British 
Museum, classed as "Clarendon 68", which is, I believe, in the 
translator's own handwriting. The second copy is in the library 
of Trinity College, Dublin [class F. 1. 18]. The third copy is in 
Harris's collections in the hbrary of the Royal Dublin Society ; 
it is in Harris's own hand, and appears to have been copied from 
the Trinity College copy, with corrections of some of the former 
transcriber's inaccuracies. 

The following memorandum, prefixed to a list of Irish bishops, 
made for Sir James Ware, and now preserved in the manuscript 
above referred to in the British Museum, will enable us to form 
some idea of the sources, the only true ones, from which this list 
has been drawn. 

" The ensuing bishops' names are collected out of several Irish 
ancient and modem manuscripts, viz. : of Gilla-isa Mac Fferbisy, 
written before the year 1397 (it is he that wrote the greate Booke 
of Leackan Mac Ffcrbissy, now kept in Dublin), and out of 
others the Mac Fferbisy Annals, out of saints' calendars and ge- 
nealogies also, for the Right Worshipful and ever honoured Sir 
James Ware, knight, and one of his Majesties Privie Council, 


and Auditor General of the Kingdom of Ireland. This coUec- lect. vi. 
tion is made by Dudley Firbisse, 1655". — p. 17. oftheva- 

These translated annals have been edited by Dr. John O'Do- noua works 
noyan, and published in the first volume of the Miscellany of Ma^rbia. 
the Archaeological Society, in the year 1846. 

Mac Firbis' was of no ordinary or ignoble race, being cer- 
tainly descended from DatJii, the last pagan monarch of Erinn, 
who was killed by lightning, at the foot of the Alps, in Anno 
Domini 428. At what time the Mac Firbises became professi- 
onal and hereditary historians, genealogists, and poets, to various 
princes in the province of Connacht, we now know not ; but we 
know that from some remote period down to the descent of 
Oliver Cromwell upon this country, they held a handsome patri- 
mony at Lecain Mac Firbis, on the banks of the River Muaidhj 
or Moy, in the county of Sligo, on which a castle was built by 
the brothers Ciothrtiadh, and James, and John da, their cousin, 
in 1560. So early as the year 1279, the Annals of the Four 
Masters record the death of Gilla Isa (or Gillisa) M6r Mac 
Firbis, " chief historian of Tir-Fiachrach'' [in the present 
coimty of Sligo.] Again, at the year 1376, they record the death 
of Donogh Mac Firbis, "an historian". And again, at the year 
1379, they record the death of Firbis Mac Firbis, "a learned 

The great Book o£ Lecain, now in the library. of the Royal 
Irish Academy, was compiled in the year 1416, by Gilla Isa for 
Gillisa] Mar, the direct ancestor of Duald Mac Firbis ; and the 
latter quotes in his work (p. 66), not only the Annals of Mac 
Firbis, but also the Leabhar Gabhala, or Book of Invasions of Ire- 
land, of his grandfather, Dubhaltach [or Dudley], as an authority 
for the Battle oiMagh Tuireadh [Moytura], and the situation of 
that place ; and at p. 248, the Dumb Book of James Mac Firbis 
for the genealogy of his own race. There is in the library 
of Trinity College, Dublin, a large and important volume of 
fragments of various ancient manuscripts (classed H. 2, 16), 
part of which professes to have been written by Donogb Mac 
Firbis in the year 1391 ; and in another place, in a more modem 
hand, it is wntten, that this is the Yellow Book of Lecain. 

Dubhaltach Mac Firbis, in his introduction to his great gene- 
alogical book, states that his family were poets, historians, and 
genealogists to the great families of the foDowing ancient Con- 
nacht chieftaincies, viz. : Lower Connacht, Ui Fiachrach of the 
Moy, Ui Amhalgaidh, Cera, Ui Fiachrach o{ Aidhne, void Eacht- 
gha, and to the Mac Donnells of Scotland. 





rloiu works 



Of the 


The Mac Firbis, in right of being the hereditary poet and 
historian of his native territory of Ui Fiachrach of the Moy (in 
the present county of Sligo), took an important part in the inau- 
guration of the O'Dowda, the hereditary chief of that country. 
The following curious account of this ceremony will more clearly 
show the position of the Mac Firbis on these great occasions ; 
it is translated from a little tract in the Book oi Lecan, in the 
library of the Royal Irish Academy. 

"The privilege of the first drink [at all assemblies] was given 
to O'CaomJiain by O'Dowda, and OCaomhain was not to drink 
until he first presented it [the drink] to the poet, that is, to 
Mac Firbis ; also the arms and battle steed of O'Dowda, after 
his proclamation, were given to OCaomham^ and the arms and 
dress of 0*Caomhain to Mac Firbis ; and it is not competent ever 
to call him the O'Dowda until O'Caornhain and Mac Firbis 
have first called the name, and until Mac Firbis carries the 
body of the wand over O'Dowda; and every clergyman, and 
every representative of a church, and every bishop, and every 
chief of a territory present, all are to pronounce the name after 
O'Caomhain and Mac Firbis. And there is one circumstance, 
should O'Dowda happen to be in Tir Amhalghaidh [Tirawley], 
he is to go to Amhalghaidlis Cam to be proclaimed, so as that 
all the chiefs be about him ; but should he happen to be at the 
Cam of the Daughter of Brian, he is not to go over [to AmhaU 
gaidKs Cam] to be proclaimed ; neither is he to come over from 
AmhalgaidKs Cam, for it was Amhalgaidh^ the son of Fiachra 
Ealgach^ that raised that Cam for himself, in order that he him- 
self, and all those who should attain to the chieftainship after 
him, might be proclaimed by the name of lord upon it. And it 
is in this Cam that Amhalgaidh himself is biuied, and it is from 
him it is named. And every king of the race of Fiachra that 
shall not be thus proclaimed, shall have shortness of life, and 
his seed and generation shall not be illustrious, and he shall never 
see the kingdom of God". — [See original in Appendix, No. 

This curious little tract, with topographical illustrations, will 
be found in the volume on the Tribes and Customs of Hy -Fi- 
achrach, among the important publications of the Irish Archae- 
ological Society. 

So much, then, for the compiler of the chronicle which I am 
now about to describe, the value of which, as a historical docu- 
ment, has only, of late years, come to be properly understood. 

The Chbonicum Scotorum, which, as I have tdready stated, 
is written on paper, begins with the following title and short 

freface, by the compiler. — [See original in Appendix, No. 


," The Clironicle of the Scots (or Irish) begins here. — lect. vi. 

" Understand^ O reader, that it is for a certain reason, and, ^^ ^^^ 
particularlj, to avoid tediousness, that our intention is to make chkootcum 
only a short abstract and compendium of the history of the ^*'**^*^' 
Scots in this book, omitting the lengthened details of the his- 
torical books ; wherefore it is that we beg of you not to criti- 
cize us on that account, as we know that it is an exceedingly 
great deficiency". 

The comniler then passes rapidly over the three first ages of 

the world, the earlier colonizations of Ireland, the death of the 

Partholanian colonists at Tallaght (in this county of Dublin) ; 

and the visit of Niul, the son of Fenius Farsaidh^ to Egypt, to 

teach the languages after the confiision of Babel; givmg the 

years of the world according to the Hebrews and the Septuagint. 

This sketch extends to near the end of the first column of 

the third page, where the following curious note in the original 

hand occurs : — 

I " Ye have heard from me, O readers, that I do not like to 

i have the labour of writing this copy, and it is therefore that I 

I beseech you, through true friendship, not to reproach me for it 

j (if you understand what it is that causes me to be so) ; for it is 

, certain that the Mac Firbises are not in fault". — [See original in 

^ Appendix, No. LXV.] 

What it was that caused Mac Firbis's reluctance to make 
this abridged copy of the old book or books before him, at this 
time, it is now difficult to imaeine. The writing is identical 
with that in his book of genealogies, which was made by hiTn 
in the year 1650 ; and this copy must have been made about 
1 the same disastrous period of our history, when the relentless 

I rage of Oliver Cromwell spread ruin and desolation over all 

that was noble, honourable, and virtuous in our land. It is 
very probable that it was about this time that Sir James Ware 
I conceived the idea of availing himself of Mac Firbis's exten- 

I sive and profound antiquarian learning ; and as that learned, 

and, I must say, well intentioned writer, was then concerned 
only with what related to the ecclesiastical history of Ireland, 
this was probably the reason that Mac Firbis offers those warm 
apologies for having been compelled to pass over the " long and 
tedious" account of the early colonizations of this coimtry, and 
pass at one step to our Christian era. (We know that Ware 
quotes many of our old annals as sterhng authorities in his 
work. As these were all in the Gaedhhc language, and as 
Ware had no acquaintance with that language, it follows clearly 
enough, that he must have had some competent person to assist 
him to read those annals, and whose busmess it was doubtless 



LECT. vi. to select and translate for him such parts of them as were 

Of the 

%n uie deemed by him essential to his design.) Excepting for some such 
cbbohicux purpose as this, I can see no reason whatever why Mac Firbis 
*"*■ should apply himself, and with such apparent reluctance, to 
make this compendiimi from some ancient book or books of 
annals belonging to his family. It appears, indeed, from his 
own words, daat it was poverty or distress that caused him to 
pass over the record of what he deemed the ancient glory of 
his country, and to draw up a mere utilitarian abstract for some 
person to whose patronage he was compelled to look for sup- 
port in his declimng years ; and it is gratifjring to observe the 
care he takes to record that his difficulties were not caused 
by any neglect on the part of his family, who were, as we 
kiiow, totjdly ruined and despoiled of their ancestral pro- 
perty by the tide of robbers and murderers which the com- 
monwealth of England poured over defenceless Erinn at this 

To return to the Chronicum. Continuing his abstract, the 
compiler passes rapidly over the history of the early coloniza- 
tion of Ireland to the year of our Lord 375, that being the 
year in which St. Patrick was bom. This date is written in 
the back margin in the hand of Mr. Charles O'Conor of Bela- 
nagar, and from that to the year 432 there is no date given. 

The date 432 is written in Roman numerals (in Graedhlic 
characters, of course) in the original hand, and under it the 
arrival of St. Patrick in Ireland from Rome, on his apostolic 
mission, by the direction of Pope Celestine. The arrival of 
the great apostle is given precisely in the same words as in the 
annals of ulster. 

From this to the year of our Lord 1022, no date appears in 
the original hand, nor even after that, except occasionally the 
year of the world. The latter is set down at the end of the 
year of our Lord 1048, as 5,000 years, according to the Hebrew 

The next dates that appear are 453, 454, 455, 456, 458, all 
in the margin ; and all these are, I believe, as well as the re- 
maining dates, all through to the end, in the handwriting of 
Roderick O'Flaherty, the author of the Ogygia. 

No date, however, is inserted from the year 458 to the year 
605 ; but from this year forward the dates appear regularly in 
the margin. 

A large deficiency occurs at the year 722, where the com- 
piler has written the following memorandum : — 

" The breasts [or fronts] of two leaves of the old book, out 
of which I write this, are wanting here, and I leave what is 


before me of thia page for them. I am Dubkaltach FirhisiglC. lect . vi. 
— £See original in Appendix, No. LXVI.] ^ ^^ 

iJnfortunately, this defect occurs, by some unknown chance, chbokicuh 
not only to the extent of the loss here noticed, but as far as ^*^^*™*'^ 
from the year 722 to the year 805. 

It is remarkable that the defect in the annals of Tighemach 
should begin nearly with the same year (718); but it extends 
much further, to the year 1068. 

The order and arrangement of the events recorded, and the 
events themselves, often, though not always, agree with the 
annals of Tighemach. The details are bnef and condensed, 
but they so often convey scraps of rare additional information, 
as to leave us reason to regret the unknown circumstances 
which caused the writer to leave out, as he said he did, the 
" tediousness"^ of the old historical books. 

The Chronicum comes down, in its present form, only to the 
year 1135 ; and, whether it was ever carried down with more 
ample details to the year 1443, when the compiler's translations 
for Ware commence, is a question which probably will never 
be cleared up« Such as it is, however, and as far as it goes, 

I there can be no doubt of its being one of the most authentic 

existing copies of, or compilations from, more ancient annals. 

, I have already stated tiiat this manuscript is in the well-known 

hand of its compiler, Duald Mac Firbis, and that it was written, 
probably, about the year 1650 ; yet hear what the Rev. Charles 

! O'Conor says of it, in the Stowe catalogue: 

• " Some hkve confounded this chronicle with Tighemach's, be- 

cause it is frequently called Chronicon Cluancnse, and was writ- 

' ten iijL Tighemach 8 Monastery of Cluainmacnois". He then 

continues: "The Stowe copy now before us was carefidly trans- 

I cribed from the Dublin copy, by the compiler of this catalogue, 

' from that Dublin MS., which is quite a modem transcript, being 

the only copy he could fmd".— [Stowe Cat. vol. i. p. 201, Ifo. 63.] 

How clearly do these words show that the reverend writer, 

though otherwise a sufficiently good scholar, was totally incom- 

Stent to pronounce a correct opinion on the age of any Gaedhlic 
S., from the character of the writing, or from an acquaintance 
with the peculiar hands of the different writers who preceded 
him, excepting, indeed, that of his own grandfather, Charles 
O'Conor, of Belanagar. Yet there is no man more dogmatic 
in his decisions on the dates of manuscripts and compositions, — 
his two most favourite periods being, we may observe in passing, 
** the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries", and "the reign of James 
the First". Indeed, I am obliged to say, that his readings and 
renderings of text, as well as his translations of Irish, ore as in- 




Of the 



Of the 
axvxlb of 


accurate, as his historical deductions, and even positive state- 
ments, are often unfounded, however arrogantly advanced. 

In connexion with this fragment of the Lecain collection of 
annals, I may mention that there is a short tract of annals pre^ 
served in the great Book of Lecain, now in the library of the 
Royal Irish Academy, the compilation of which was finished 
in the year 1416. These annals are without date, and some of the 
items are out of chronological order. They begin with the bat- 
tle of Uchbadh, which was fought in the year 733, at a place of 
that name in the county of Ealdare, between Aedh AUan^ the 
monarch of Ireland, and the kings and chiefs of Leinster, in which 
the latter were completely overthrown, and their whole country 
devastated and nearly depopulated. 

These chronicles come down to the treacherous death of the 
celebrated Tieman O'Rourke, king o£ Breifni [Bre&y], at the 
hands of the Anglo-Normans, in the year 1172. Tne events 
recorded, briefly of course, are the reigns, battles, and deaths of 
the monarchs and provincial kings of Ireland; the accessions 
and deaths of the bishops and abbots of Armagh ; and the more 
unusual atmospheric phenomena, such as remarkable seasons 
and other extraordinary occurrences, etc 

There are several little additions, among the items of informi^ 
tion recorded in these annals, which are not to be found in the 
Annals of the Four Masters; as, for instance, in recording the 
death of the monarch Maelseachlainn^ or Malachy the Second 
(who died Anno Domini 1022), they give a list of five-and- 
twenty battles gained by him, of which the Four Masters men- 
tion but four. In connection with these battles also, many 
topographical names are preserved, not to be found in any of 
the other existing books of annals. And I may remark in con- 
clusion, that the annals contained in this short tract are, as regards 
date of transcription, the oldest annals that we have in Ireland. 

I shall close this lecture with some account of one other book 
of annals, to which I have already shortly referred, and which, 
though only remaining to us in the English language, is not 
without its interest and value. I allude to the book tolerably 
well known under the name of the Annals of Clonhacnois, 
the only copy or version of which known to be extant is an 
English translation made from the Irish in the year 1627, by 
Connla Mac Echagan, of Lismojme, in the county of West- 
meath, for his friend and kinsman, Torlogh Mac Cochlan, Lord 
of Delvin, in that countj. 

This translation is written in the quaint style of the Elizabe- 
than period, but by a man who seems to have well understood 


the value of the original Gh^dhlic phraseology, and rendered it lect. vi. 
every justice, as far as we can determine in me absence of the ^^ ^^^ 
original. It was believed, — and, indeed, there is reason still to ankaL ov 
beheve it, — that the original book was preserved ia the posses- kSST*^*^ 
sion of the &mily of the late Sir Richard Nagle, who was de- 
scended from the translator by the mother^s siae ; however, on 
the death of the worthy baronet, a few years ago, no trace of it 
could be found among the family papers, though other ancient 
memorials of the house of Mac Echagan were p^reservcd among 
them. It was rumoured in the country, that this old book con- 
tained, or might possibly contain, some records of events that it 
woidd be as well for the Mac Echagan &mily not to have 
brought before the world; and that for this reason, the female 
representatives of the familv had for some generations kept the 
volume out of sight. I had the honour of a slight acquaintance 
with the late Sir Richard Nagle, which I improved so far as to 
mention this tradition to him. He did not deny the correctness 
of the rumour, as far as the keeping out of sight of the book went ; 
but he had no knowledge of any particular reason, more than a 
laudable care for what was looked upon as a remarkable national 
record, and a witness to the respectability and identity of the fa- 
mily. Indeed, the impression left on my mind by my conver- 
sations on this subject with Sir Richard was, that the book had 
been in the custody of his mother, but that that respected lady 
cherished so closely this relic of her ancient name as to be re- 
luctant even to show it, much less to part with it for any con- 
sideration whatever. 

There is nothing in this book (so far as we can judge in the 
absence of the ori^nal) to show why it should be called the An- 
nals of Clonmacnois. We have already seen, and we shall have 
occasion to touch on the same &ct again, that the Annals of 
Clonmacnois used by the Four Masters, came down but to the 
year 1227, whereas this book comes down to the year 1408. 

The records contained in it are brief, but they sometimes pre- 
serve details of singular interest, not to be foimd in any of our 
other annals. As a specimen of these additions — the most in- 
teresting of them, perhaps — let me take the following passage, 
which occurs at the year 905, but which should be placed at Sic 
year 913; I give it m the exact phraseology of the original:— r 

" Neal Glunduffe was king [of^ Ireland] three years, and was 
married to the Lady Gormphley, daughter of King Flann, who 
was a very fdr, virtuous, and learned dbmosell ; was first married 
to Cormacke Mac Coulenan, King of Munster; secondly to 
King Neal, by whom she had a son, called Prince DonneU, who 
was drowned; upon whose death she made many pitiful and 



LECT.Ti. learned ditties in Irish ; and lastly, she was married to Cearbhall 
Mac Morgan, King of Leinster. After all which royal mar- 
riages, she begged from door to door, forsaken of all her &iends 
and allies, and glad to be relieved by her inferiors". 
The stoiy The order of Gormlaith's marriages is not accurately given in 
fl'JrSSaitA. this entry. Let us correct the entry from another and more re- 
liable authority, that of the Book of Leinster. 

It is true that Gormlaith was first married, or rather betrothed, 
to the celebrated king, bishop, and scholar, Cormac Mac Cul- 
lennan, King of Mimster; but that marriage was never consum- 
mated, as the young king changed his mmd, and restored the 
princess to her father, witn all her fortune and dowry, while he 
nimself took holy orders. He (as you are aware) became subse- 
quently Archbishop of Cashel, and was, as you may remember, 
the author of the celebrated Saltair of Cashel, as well as of the 
learned compilation since known as Cormac's Glossary. 

After havmg been thus deserted by King Cormac, Gormlaith 
was married against her will to CearbhalljKing of Leinster. 

Shortly afterwards, in the year 908, — ^probably in reality on 
account of the repudiation of the princess by the King of 
Munster, though ostensibly to assert nis right to the presenta- 
tion to the ancient church of Mainister EibMn, now Monas- 
tereven (in the present Queen's county), which down to this time 
belonged to Munster, — Flann Siona^ the father of Gormlaith^ 
who was hereditary King of Meath, and then Monarch of Erinn^ 
proceeded to make war on the southern prince ; and, accom- 
panied by his son-in-law, the King of Leinster, he marched with 
their umted forces to Bealach Mughna (now Ballymoon, in the 
south of the present county of Kildare), within two miles of the 
present town of Carlow. Here they were met by King Cormac 
at the head of the men of Munster, and a furious battle ensued 
between them, in which the Munstermen were defeated, and Cor- 
mac, the king and bishop, killed and beheaded on the field. 

Cearbhall^ King of Leinster, and husband of the princess 
Gormlaith, was badly wounded in the battle, and carried home 
to his palace at Naas, where he was assiduously attended to by 
his queen, who was scarcely ever absent from his couch. It hap- 
pened that one day, when ne was convalescent, but still confined 
to his bed, the battle of Bealach Mughna became the subject of 
their conversation. Cearbhall described the fight with anima- 
^ tion, and dwelt with seemingly exuberant satisfaction on the de- 

■ feat of Cormac, and the dismemberment of his body in his pre- 

^ sence. The queen, however, who was sitting on the foot-rail of 

the bed, said that it was a great pity that the body of the good 
and holy bishop should have been unnecessarily mutilated and 



desecrated ; upon whicli the king, in a sudden fit of rage, struck lect. vi. 
her 60 rude a blow with his foot, as threw her headlong on the .j^^ ^^ 
floor, by which her clothes were thrown into disorder, in the pre- of Queen 
eence of all her ladies and attendants. ^ ^ Q^rmuuth. 

The queen felt highly mortified and insulted at the indignity 
thus offered to her, and fled to her father for protection. Her 
father, however, in the presence of a powerful Danish enemy in 
Dublin, did not choose to take any nostile steps to punish the 
rudeness of King Cearbliall, but sent his daughter back again to 
her husband.. Not so her young kinsman, Niall Glundubh [" of 
the Black Knee"], the son of the brave Aedh Finnliathy Kins of 
Aileach [i.e. King of Ulster.] This brave prince, having heard of 
the indignity wmch had been put upon nis relative, raised all 
the northern clans, and at their head marched to the borders of 
Leinster, with the intention of avenging the insult, as well as of 
taking the queen herself under the protection of the powerful 
forces of the north. Queen Garmlattfi, however, objected to any 
violent measures, and only insisted on a separation from her 
husband, and the restoration of her dowry. She had four-and- 
twenty residences given to her in Leinster by Cearbhall on her 
marriage, and these he consented to confirm to her, and to re- 
lease her legally from her vows as his wife. The queen being 

, thus once more freed firom conjugal ties, returned to her fathers 

I house for the third time. 

I After this Niall Glundubh, deeming that the gross conduct 

of Cearbhall to his queen, and their final separation, had legally 
as well as virtually dissolved their marriage, proposed for her 
hand to her father ; but both father and daughter refused, and, for 
the time, she continued to reside in the court of Flann. 

In the course of the following year (904), however, Cearbhall 
was killed in battle by the Danes of Dublin, imder their leader 
Ulbhj and all impediments being now removed, Gormlaith be- 
came the wife of^Niall Glundvhk. 

From this period to the year 917, we hear nothing more of 
Queen Gormlaith, Her father died in the mean time, in the 
year 914, and afler him the young Niall Glundubh succeeded 
to the supreme throne as Monarch of Erinn. ^ 

With the exception of the immortal Brian Boroimhf, no 
monarch ever wielded the sceptre, which was the sword, of 
Eiinn with more vigour, than this truly brave northern prince. 
His battles with the fierce and cruel Danes were incessant and 
bloody, and his victories many and glorious, and himself and 
his brave father Aedh were the only monarchs who ever 
attempted to relieve Munster of the presence of these cruel foes, 
before Brian. Having, in fine, hemmed in so closely the 


LECT. Ti. Danes of Meath, Dublin, and all Leinster, that they dared not 
move from the immediate vicinity of Dublin, he determined at 
of Qace7 last to attack them even there, in their very stronghold. With 
GonmaiOi. ^y^ jesolvc, therefore, on Wednesday, the 17th day of October, 
in the year 917, he marched on Dublin with a large force, and 
attended by several of the chiefs and princes of Meath and 
Oriell ; but the Danes went out and met him at Citl Mosonufg 
(a place not yet identified), in the neighbourhood of the city, 
and a furious battle ensued, in which, unfortunately, the army 
of Erinn was defeated, and Niall himself was killed, with most 
of his attendant chiefs and an immense number of their men. 
And thus was the unfortunate queen Gormlaith for the third 
time left a widow. Her elder brother Conor was killed in 
the battle, and her younger brother Donnchadh succeeded her 
husband in the sovereignty, which he enjoyed till his death in 
the year 942. 

Of Queen GormlaitKs history, during the reign of her bro- 
ther, we know nothing ; but, on his death, the sceptre passed 
away from the houses of her father and of her husband; 
and it is possible, or rather we may say probable, that it was 
then that commenced that poverty and neglect, of which she 
so feelingly speaks in her poems, as well as in various stray 
verses which have come down to us. Her misfortunes conti- 
nued during the remaining five years of her life — ^namely, fiwn 
the death of her brother, 3ie monarch Donnchadhy in the year 
942, to her own death in the year 947. 

I should not, perhaps, have dwelt so long on the short but 

eventfiil history of the unfortunate queen Gormlaith^ but that 

the translator of these annals of Clonmacnois, as they are 

called, falls into several mistakes about her; but, whether they 

be part of his original text, or only traditionary notes of his 

own, I cannot determine : I believe the latter to be the more 

probable explanation. He says, at the year 936 (which should 

be the year 943), that, after die death of Niall Glundubh, she 

was married to Cearbhall, king of Leinster; but I have taken 

the proper order of her marria^s, and the present sketch of her 

history, from the Book of Leinster (a MS. of the middle of 

'] the twelfth century), as well as from an ancient copy of a most 

' curious poem, written during her long last iUness by Gomdaiih 

herself, on her own life and misfortimes. Li this poem she 

details the death of her son, who was accidentally drowned in 

the coimty Galway during his fosterage, and the subsequent 

! death of her husband ; and in it is also preserved an interesting 

' account of her mode of living; a sketch of the more fortimate 

; or happy part of her life ; a character of Niall, of Cearbhally 


and of Cormac ; a description of the place and mode of sepul- lect. vi. 
ture of Niall ; and, on the whole, a greater variety of references 
to habits, customs, and manners, thc^ I have found in any other of oae^ 
piece of its kind. I have, besides this, which is a long poem, ^°"''^^**^ 
collected a few of those stray verses which Gormlaith composed 
imder a variel^ of impulses and circumstances. 

The followmg short, but very curious, account of the im- 
mediate cause of her death (the date of which is given by 
Mac Echagan, at the year 943, by mistake for the year 948)» 
appears to nave been token from the poem just mentioned. I 
quote again from the same translation of the annab of Clon- 
macnois: — 

" Gormphlv, daughter of King Flann Mac Mayleseachlyn, 
and queen of Ireland, died of a tedious and grievous wound, 
which happened in this manner: she dreamed that she saw 
£jng Niall Grlunduffe ; whereupon she got up and sate in her bed 
to behold him ; whom he for anger would forsake, and leave the 
chamber; and as he was departing in that an^ry motion (as she 
thought), she gave a snatch after him, thinkmg to have taken 
him by the mantle, to keep him with her, and fell upon the bed- 
stick of her bed, that it pierced her breast, even to her very 
heart, which received no cure until she died thereof. 

The queen did not, however, immediately die of the injury 
thus strangely received. Her last illness was long and tedious, 
and it was during its continuance that she composed the curious 
poems which are still preserved, in one of which she ^ves an 
account of the manner of the wound which soon after caused 
her death. 

I cannot do better than close my remarks on this curious 
volume by transcribing the translator's address and dedication 
to Mac Coghlan, for whom he translated it. These documents 
are, besides, not only very explanatory of the design and idea 
of the work, but in themselves so quamt, so interesting, and so 
suggestive, that I am persuaded you would be sorry to lose 
them, and they have not hitherto been published. 

" A book contidning all tlie inhabitants of Ireland since the 
creation of the world, imtil the conquest of the English, wherein 
is showed all the kings of Clana Neimed, Firbolg, Tuathy 
De danan, and the sons of Miletius of Spain: translated out of 
Irish into English, faithfuUv and well agreeing to the Histoij 
de Captionibus Hibemise, Uistoria Magna, and other authentic 
authors. Partly discovering the year of the reigns of the said 
kings, with the manner of their governments, and also the 
deaths of divers saints of this kingdom, as died in those several 
reigns, with the tyrannical rule 'and government of the Danes 
for 219 years. 



Of th« 
Akxals ot 


1 • 

''A brief catalogtie of all the kings of the several races, afler 
the coming of Saint Patrick, until Donogh Mac Bryan carried 
the crown to Rome, and of the kings that reigned after, until 
the time of the conquest of the Engush, in the twentieth year 
of the reign of Roiy O'Connor, monarch of Ireland, 

'^Also of certain things which happened in this kingdom after 
the conquest of the English, until tne sixth year of the reign of 
King Henry the Fourth, in the year of our Lord Gk)d 1408. 

"To the worthy and of great expectation young gentleman, 
Mr. Terence Coehlan, nis brother, Conell Ma Geoghegan, 
wisheth long health, with good success in all his affairs. 

"Among all the worthy and memorable deeds of King Bryan 
Borowe, sometime king of this kingdom, this is not of the least 
account, that after that he had shaken off the intolerable yoke 
and bondage wherewith this land was cruelly tortured and har- 
ried by the Danes and Normans for the space of 219 years that 
they bore sway, and received tribute of the inhabitants in gene- 
ral, — and though they nor none of them ever had the name of 
king or monarch of the land, yet they had that power, as they 
executed what they pleased, and benaved themselves so cruel 
and pagan-like, as well towards the ecclesiasticals as tcmporab 
of the kingdom, that they broke down their churches, and razed 
them to their very foundations, and burned their books of chronr 
icles and prayers, to the end that there should be no memory left 
to their posterities, and all learning should be quite forgotten, — 
the said King Bryan seeing into what rudeness the kingdom 
was fallen, after setting himself in the quiet government thereof, 
and restored each one to his ancient patrimony, repaired their 
churches and houses of religion ; he caused open schools to be 
kept in the several parishes to instruct their youth, which by the 
said long wars were grown rude and altogether illiterate ; he assem- 
bled together all the nobility of the kingdom, as well spiritual as 
temporal, to Cashel, in Munstcr, and caused them to compose a 
book containing all the inhabitants, events, and septs, that lived 
in this land from the first peopling, inhabitation, and discovery 
thereof, after the creation of the world, until that present, which 
book they caused to be called by the name of the Saltair of Cashel, 
signed it with his own hand, together with the hands of the kings 
of the five provinces, and also with the hands of all the bishops 
and prelates of the kingdom, caused several copies thereof to be 
given to the kings of the provinces, with straight charge that 
tnere should be no credit given to any other chronicles thence- 
forth, but should be held as false, disannulled, and quite forbid- 
den for ever. Since which time there were many septs in the 


kingdom that lived by it, and whose profession it was to chron- ^ect. vi. 
icle and keep in memory the state of the kingdom, as well for 
the time past, present, and to come ; and now because they cannot Tvsjla of 
enjoy that respect and gain by their said profession as heretofore Jj^u*^*'' 
they and their ancestors received, they set nought by the said 
knowledge, neglect their books, and choose rather to put their 
children to learn English than their own native language, inso- 
much that some of tnem suffer tailors to cut the leaves of the 
said books (which their ancestors held in great account), and 
sew them in long pieces to make their measures of, that the pos» 
terities are like to fall into more ignorance of any thin^ which 
happened before their time. In the reign of the said King 
Bryan, and before, Ireland was well stored with learned men 
and schools, and that people came from all parts of Christendom 
to learn therein, and among all other nations that came thither, 
there was none so much made of nor respected with the Irish, 
as were the Endish and Welshmen, to whom they gave several 
colleges to dwell and learn in; [such] as to the English a col- 
lege m the town of Mayo, in Connacht, which to this day is 
called Mayo of the English ; and to the Welshmen, the town of 
(Jallen, in the King s County, which is likewise called Gallon of 
the Welshmen or Wales ; from whence the said two nations have 
brought their characters, especially the English Saxons, as by 
comparing the old Saxon characters to the Irish (which the 
Irish never changed), you shall find little or no difference at all. 
" The earnest desire I understand you have, to know these 
things, made me to undertake the translation of the old Irish Book 
for you, which, by long lying shut and unused, I could hardly 
refid, and left places that I could not read, because they were 
altogether grown illegible and put out; and if this my simple 
labour shallany way peasure you, I shall hold myself thoroughly 
recompensed, and my pains well employed, which for your own 
reading I have done, and not for the reading of any other curious 
fellow that would rather carp at my phraze, than take any de- 
light in the History ; and in the meantime I bid you heartily 
farewell, from L^ijevanchan, 20th April, Anno Domini 1627. 
" Your very loving brother, 


The translator then gives the following list of his authorities, 
to which I would ask your particular attention : — 

" The names of the several authors whom I have taken for the 
book: Saint Colima Kill; St. Bohine; Calvagh O'More, Esq.; 
Venerable Bede ; Eochye O'Flannagan, Archdean of Armagh 
and Clonfiachna ; Gillemen Mac Conn-ne-mbocht, Archpriest of 
Clonvickenos ; Keileachair Mac Con, alias Gorman ; Eusebius ; 


LECT. VL Maroellinus ; Moylen O'Mulchonrye; and Tanaje O'Mulchon- 
Of the ^® » ^^ professed chroniclers". 

^▲u ov It is not easy to see what Mac Echagan means, when he says 
KoiA^^' that he had taken these authors for this book. We have only 
to believe that he took from Ensebius, Marcellinus, and Bede, 
some items or additions, and some dates for the early part of his 
translations, and that he took the various readings and additions, 
to be found in it, from the Irish authorities to whom he refers. 
But, whatever his meaning may be, this is a curious list of au- 
thors to be consulted by an Irish country gentleman in the early 
part of the seventeenth century. 

Without ^oing back to his very earlier authoritieSi we may 
show the antiquity of the second class. 

Eochaidh OFlannagain^ Archdean of Arms^h and Clon- 
fiachna, died in the* year 1003. If this learned man's books 
came down to Mac Echagan's times, he must have had a rich 
treat in them indeed. These books are referred to in the fol- 
lowing words, in the ancient book called Leabhar na h-Uidhre^ 
written at Clonmacnois before the year 1106. At the end of a 
most curious and valuable tract on the ancient pagan cemeteries 
of Ireland, the writer says that it was Flann, the leamedpro- 
fessor of Monasterboice, who died in the year 1056, and Eoch* 
aidh, the learned, O'Kerin, that compiled thiis tract from the books 
of JEochaidh OFlannagain at Armagh, and the books of Mona»- 
terboice, and other books at both places, which had disappeared 
at the time of making this note. 

Of the books of Gtllananaemh moo Conn-na-^mBocht^ Arch- 
priest of Clonmacnois, I have never heard anything more than 
Mac Echagan's reference to them. Of CeUeachair Mac Conn 
na-mBocht, I know nothing more than that the death of his son 
is recorded in the Annals of the Four Masters, at the year 1106, 
in the following words : — ^*' Maelmuire, son of the son of Conn- 
na-mBocht, was killed at Cluainmicnoia by a party of plun- 
derers". This Maelmuire was the compiler or transcriber of 
the above mentioned Leabhar na h-Uidhre, in which he is set 
down as Maelmuire, the son of CeUeachair, son of Connrna- 

The two O'Muloonrys, of whom he speaks, belonged to the 
fourteenth century, and were poets and historians of Connacht ; 
but it is not easy to distinguish their works now from the com- 
positions of other members of that talented family, of the same 
Christian names, but of a later period. 

It is much to be regretted that the original of the curious book 
of which I am now speaking, and which certainly existed in the 
early part of the last century, should be lost to us ; and, conse- 


quently, that we have no means of ascertaining to what extent lect. vi. 
Mac Echagan's translation is a faithful one. He appears to 
have drawn a little on his imagination, in his address to Mac ahvaL of 
Cochlan, where he states that it was Brian Boroimhe that ordered koS™^*'' 
the compilation of the Saltair of Cashel. This certainly cannot 
be the truth, for we have the Saltair of Cashel repeatedly- 
quoted in the Books of Ballymote and Lecan, and its authorship 
as repeatedly ascribed to the Holy King, Cormac Mac Cullennan, 
who flourisned more than one himdred years before the time 
ascribed to that work by Mac Echagan. 

It is true that Brian Boroimhe, alter the expulsion and sub- 
jugation of the Danes, did rebuild and repair the churches and 
other ecclesiastical edifices which had been ruinedand desecrated 
by the Danes ; that he restored the native princes, chiefs, and 
people, to their ancient inheritances; established schools and 
colleges; caused aU the ancient books that had survived the de- 
solation and desecration of the two preceding centuries to be 
transcribed and multiplied; and that he fixed and established 
permanent family names : but, althouffh we have an account of 
all this from various sources, some of them nearly contemporary 
with himself, we have no mention whatever of his havmg di- 
rected the writing of the Saltair of Cashel, or any work of its kind. 

There are three copies of Mac Echagan's translation known 
to me to be in existence : one in the library of Trinity College, 
Dublin (class F. 3, 19 J ; one in the British Museum ; and one in 
Sir Thomas Phillips's large collection, in Worcestershire. They 
axe all written in the hand of Teige O'Daly , and they are dated 
rthe Dublin one at least) in the year 1684. O'Daly has pre- 
nxed some strictures on the translator, charging him with parti- 
ality for the Heremonian or northern race of Ireland, one of 
whom he was himself, to the prejudice of the Heberian or "" 

southern race. But O'Daly's remarks are couched in language 
of such a character that I do not think it necessary to allude to 
them farther here. 

I have now completed for you a short examination of all the 

J>rincipal collections of Annals which may be depended on as 
brming the solid foundation of Irish history, with the exception 
of the last and greatest work of this kind, the Annals of the 
Four Masters of the Monastery of Donegal. That magnificent 
compilation shall form the subject of our next meeting, after 
which I shall proceed to the consideration of the other classes of 
historical authorities to which I have so frequently alluded in 
the course of the lectures I have already addressed to you. 


CPdhrwud J«l7S.>ea6u] 


The Annals (continued). 10. The Annals of the Four Masters. The *^ Con- 
tention of the Bards**. Of Michael O^Cleiy. Of the Chronology of the Four 

In the last lecture we examined the " Chronicum Scotorum", and 
the Annals of Clonmacnois. The next on the list, in point of 
compilation, and the most important of all in point of interest 
and historic value, are the Annals of the Four Masters. 

In whatever point of view we regard these annals, they must 
awaken feelings of deep interest and respect ; not only as the 
largest collection of national, civil, military, and family history 
ever brought together in this or perhaps any other country, but 
also as the final winding up of the anairs of a people who had 
preserved their nationahty and independence for a space of over 
two thousand years, till their complete overthrow about the time 
at which this work was compiled. It is no easy matter for an 
Irishman to suppress feelings of deep emotion when speaking of 
the compilers of this great work ; and especially when he con- 
siders the circiunstances under which, and the objects for which, 
it was imdertaken. 

It was no mercenary or ignoble sentiment that prompted one 
of the last of Erinn's native princes, while the utter destruc- 
tion of his property, the persecution and oppression of his creed 
and race, and even the general ruin of his country, were not 
only staring him in the face, but actually upon him, — ^those 
were not, I say, any mean or mercenary motives that induced 
this nobleman to determine, that, although himself and his 
country might sink for ever under the impending tempest, the 
history of that country, at least, should not be altogether lost. 

In a former lecture I have observed that, after the termination 

of the Elizabethan wars, all, or nearly all, the Irish nobles had 

j sunk into poverty and obscurity, had found untimely graves in 

j their native land, or had sought another home far over the seas. 

I" It has been shown that, with the decline of these nobles and 

T chiefs, our national literature had become paralvsed, and even 

all but totally dead. And this was absolutely the case during 

more than the first quarter of the seventeenth century, and even 

for some time afterwards ; for, although the Rev. Father Geof- 


fry Keting compiled in the native language his History of lect. vn. 
Erinn, his " Three Shsfte of Death", and his " Key and Shield q^^^^,^^, 
of the Mass", between 1628 and 1640, yet so far was he from tcntipn 
receiving countenance or patronage, that it was among the in- BaSa". 
accessible crags and caverns of the Gailte, or Galtee, moimtains, 
and among the fastnesses of his native county of Tipperary, that 
he wrote these works, while in close concealment to escape the 
wanton vengeance of a local tyrant. 

Still, though the fostering care of the chief or the noble had 
disappeared, the native bardic spirit did not altogether die out ; 
and about the year 1604 (apparently by some preconcerted 
arrangement), a discussion sprang up between Tadhg Mac Brody, 
a distmguished Irish scholar and bard of the county of Clare, 
and the no less distinguished poet and scholar, Lughaidh O'Clery 
of Donegall, of whom mention was made in a former lecture. 
The subject of this discussion, which was carried on in verse, 
was the relative merits and importance of the two great clan- 
divisions of Erinn, as represented by the Heberians in the 
south (that is, the O'Briens and Mac Carthys, and the other in- 
dependent chiefs of Munster, the descendants of Eber), and the 
Heremonians of Ulster, Connacht, and Leinster (embracing the 
O'Neills, O'Donnells, 0*Conors, Mac Murachs, etc.), who were 
descended from Eremon. 

It is quite evident that the real object of this discussion was 
amply to rouse and keep alive the national feeling and family 
pride of such of the native nobility and gentry as still continued 
to hold any station of rank or fortune in the country ; and, as 
the war of words progressed, several auxiliaries came up on 
both sides, and took an active part in the controversy, which 
thus assumed considerable importance. 

This discussion, which is popularly called "The Contention 
of the Bards", brought into prominent review all the great events 
and heroic characters of Irish history from the remotest ages, 
and inspired the liviliest interest at the time. Indeed one of the 
northern auxiliaries in the controversy, Annliian Mac -^gan, 
seriously charges O'Clery with treachery, and with allowing 
himself to be worsted in the contest by Mac Brody, from par- 
tiality to the south, where he had received his education. 

The scheme of the "Contention", however, seems to have pro- 
duced little effect on the native gentry; for shortly after we 
find Mac Brody coming out with a very curious poem, addressed 
to the southern chiefs, demanding from them remuneration, 
according to ancient usage, for his defence of their claims to 
superior dignity and rank. 

Whether this controversy had the desired effect of stimulat- 



in^ to any extent the liberality of the remaining native Irish 
Of the chiefs or not, is an inquiry beyond the scope of our present pur- 
ocierya. pose ; but that it tended greatly to the renewed study of our 
native literature, may be fairly inferred fiom the important Irish 
works which soon followed it, such as those of Keting and the 
O'Cle^s, and of Mac Firbis. 

Of Keting we shall agsdn have to speak, and we shall now 
turn to a cotemporary of nis, who, like nimself, found the deep 
study of the language and history of his native land quite con- 
sistent with the strict observance and efficient discharge of the 
onerous duties of a Catholic priest. I allude to the celebrated 
fiiar, Michael O'Cleiy, the chief of the Four Masters, and the pro- 
jector of the great national literary work which bears their name. 

Michael O'Clery appears to have been bom in Kilbarron, 
near Ballyshannon, in tne county of Donegall, some time about 
the year 1580. He was descended of a family of hereditary 
scholars, lay and ecclesiastical, and received, we may presumei 
the rudiments of his education at the place of his birth. 

It appears from various circumstances that in the latter part 
of the sixteenth and early part of the seventeenth century, the 
south of Ireland afforded a higher order of education, and 
greater facilities for its attainment, than the north; and we 
feam, therefore (from Michael O'Clery's Gaedhlic Glossary, 
published by him in Louvain in 1643), that he, as well as his 
cousin, Lughaidh O'Clery, already mentioned, had received, if 
not their classical, at least their Graedhlig education, in the south, 
fix)m Baothghalach Ruadh Mac jEgan. 

Of the early life of Michael O'Clery, or at what time he 
entered the Franciscan order, we know, unfortunately, nothing; 
but in the year 1627 we find him engaged in visitmg the va- 
rious monasteries of his order in Ireland, as well as other eccle- 
siastical and lay repositories of ancient Irish Manuscripts, and 
laboriously transcribing from them with his own most accurate 
hand all that they contained of the history of the Irish CathoUc 
Church and the lives of the Irish Saints, as well as important 
tracts relating to the civil history of the country. Among the 
latter is the detailed history of the great Danish invasion and 
occupation of Ireland, now in the Burgundian Library at Brus- 
sels, [l may add that this valuable book was lately borrowed 
by the Kev. Dr. Todd, for whom I made an accurate copy of it.] 

O'Clery's ecclesiastical collection was intended for the use c» 
Father Aedh Mac an Bhaird (commonly called in English, 
Hugh Ward), a native of Donegal, a Franciscan friar, and, at this 
time, guardian of Saint Anthony's in Louvain, who contem- 
plated the publication of the Lives of the Irish Saints ; but hav- 


ing died before he had entered fully upon this great work, the lect. vn. 
materials supplied by O'Clery were taken up by another equally "~T 
competent Franciscan, Father John Colgan. This distinguished ocico-a. 
writer accordingly produced, in 1645, two noble volumes in the 
Latin lan^age. One of these, called the Trias Thaumaturgus, 
is devoted exclusively to the Lives of Saint Patrick, Saint 
Bridget, and Saint (joliun Cille, or Columba; the other vo- 
lume contains as many as could be found of the Lives of the 
bish Saints whose festival days occur from the Ist of January 
to the Slst of March, where me work stops. Whether it was 
the death of Father Michael O'Clery (who must have been the 
translator of the Lish Lives), which happened about this time, 
1643, that discouraged or incapacitated!^ Father Colgan from 
proceeding with his work, we do not know ; but although he 
published other works relating to Lreland after this time, he 
never resumed the publication of the lives of her saints. The 
collection made by the noble-hearted Father O'Clery at that 
time, is that which is now divided between the Burgundian 
Library at Brussels, and the Library of the College of St. 
Isidore at Rome. 

Father John Colgan, in the j^reface to his Acta Sanctorum 
HibemicB, published at Louvain m 1645, after speaking of the 
labours of Fathers Fleming and Ward, in collecting and eluci- 
dating the Lives of the Irisn Saints, and their subsequent mar- 
tyrdom in 1632, writes as follows of their religious Brother 
Michael O'Cleiy. 

" That those whose pious pursuits he imitated, our third aaso- 
date, Brother Michael O'Clery, also followed to the rewards of 
their merits, having died a few months ago, a man eminently 
versed in the antiquities of his country, to whose pious labours, 
through many years, both this and the other works which we 
labour at are in a great measure owing. For, when he was a 
layman, he was by profession an Antiquarian, and in that faculty 
esteemed amongst the first of his time ; after he embraced our 
Seraphic Order, in this convent of Louvain, he was employed 
as coadjutor, and to this end, by obedience and with the per- 
mission of the superiors, he was sent back to his country to 
search out and obtain the lives of the saints and other sacred an- 
tiquities of his country, which are, for the greater part, written 
in the language of his country, and very ancient. 

" But, in the province entrusted to him, he laboured with in- 
defatigable industry about fifteen years ; and in the meantime 
he copied many lives of saints from many very ancient docu- 
ments in the lan^age of the country, genealogies, three or four 
different and ancient martyrologies, and many other monuments 


LECT. vn. of great antiquity, wUch, copied anew, lie transmitted liither to 
Of Friar ^" Vardens. At length, by the charge of the superiors, deputed 
Midiaei to this, he devoted his mind to clearing and arranging, in a 
*^' better method and order, the other sacred as well as profane his- 
tories of his country, from which, with the assistance of three 
other distinguished antiquarians (whom, from the opportunity of 
the time and place, he employed as colleagues, as seeming more 
fit to that duty), he compiled, or, with more truth, since they 
had been composed by ancient authors, he cleared up, digested, 
and composed, three tracts of remote antiquity, by comparing 
many ancient docimients. The first is of the Kings of Erinn, 
succinctly recording the kind of death of each, the years of their 
reign, the order of succession, the genealogy, and the year of 
the world, or of Christ, in which each departed, which tract, on 
account of its brevity, ought more properly to be called a cata- 
logue of those kings, than a history. The second, of the Genesr 
logy of the Saints of Erinn, whicn he has divided into thirty- 
seven classes or chapters, bringing back each saint, in a long 
series, to the first author and progenitor of the family fix>m 
which he descends, which, therefore, some have been pleased to 
call Sanctilogium Genealofficum (the genealogies of the saints), 
and others Sancto- Genesis, The third treats of the first Inhabi- 
tants of Erinn, of their successive conquests from the Flood, 
through the different races, of their battles, of the kings reign- 
ing amongst them, of the wars and battles arising between those, 
and the other notable accidents and events of the island, from 
the year 278 after the Flood, up to the year of Christ 1171. 

"Also, when in the same college, to which subsequently, iat 
one time, he added two other works firom the more ancient and 
approved chronicles and annals of the country, and particularly 
from those of Cluane, Insula, and Senat, he collected the sacred 
and profane Annals of Ireland, a work thoroughly noble, usefiil, 
and nonourable to the country, and far surpassing in import- 
ance its own proper extent, by the fruitful variety of ancient 
affairs and the mmute relation of them. For, he places before 
his eyes, not only the state of society and the various changes 
during upwards of three thousand years, for which that most 
ancient kingdom stood, by recording the exploits, the dissen- 
sions, conflicts, battles, and the year of the death of each of the 
kings, princes, and heroes ; but also (what is more pleasing and 
desirable for pious minds) the condition of Catholicity and eccle- 
siastical affairs, from the first introduction of the faith, twelve 
hundred years before, up to modem times, most flourishing at 
many periods, disturbed at others, and subsequently mournful, 
whilst ^lardly any year occurs, in the mean time, in which he 


does not record the death of one or many saints, bishops, abbots, lect.vii. 
and other men, illustrious through piety and learning; and also Q^p^ar 
the building of churches, and their burnings, pillage, and de- Michael 
vastation, in great part committed by the pagans, and after- ^^*°^* 
wards by the heretic^ soldiers. His colleagues were pious men. 
As in the three before mentioned, so also in this fourth work, 
which far surpasses the others, three are eminently to be 
praised, namely, Ferfessius 0' Mcielchonairi^ Peregrine (Cu- 
cogry) O'Clery, and Peregrine (Cucogry) O'Dubhghennain^ 
men of consummate learning in the antiquities of the country, 
and of approved faith. And to these subsequently was added 
the cooperation of other distinguished antiquarians. Mauritius 
O McLeUhonairi^ who, for one month, as Conary Clery during 
many months, laboured in its promotion. But, since those an- 
nals which we in this volume, and in others following, very 
frequently quote, have been collected and compiled by the as- 
sistance and separate study of so many authors, neither the 
desire of brevity would permit us always to cite them indivi- 
dually by expressing the name, nor would justice allow us to 
attribute the labour of many to one; hence, it sometimes seemed 
proper that those were called from the place the Annals of 
Donegal, for they were commenced and completed in our con- 
vent of Done^l. But, afterwards, on accoimt of other reasons, 
I chiefly from the compilers themselves, who were four most emi- 

j nent masters in antiquarian lore, we have been led to call them 

the Annals of the Four Masters. Yet it is also said even 
now that more than four assisted in their preparation ; however, 
as their meeting was irregular, and but two of them, dminff a 
short time, laboured in the unimportant and latter part of the 
work, but the other four were engaged in the entire production, 
at least, up to the year 1267 (from which the first, and most im^ 
portant and necessary part for us is closed), hence we quote it 
i under their name ; since, hardly ever, or very rarely, anything 

^ which happened after that year comes to be related by us". 

We know not whether it was while engaged in collecting or the 
the materials for the publication of the Lives of the Irish Saints, m&rSj^R 
that Father O'Clery conceived the idea of collecting, digest- m^^ebs. 
in^, and compiling the Annals of the ancient Kingdom of 
Erinn ; and what fruitless essays for a patron he may have made 
among the broken-spirited representatives of the old native 
chiefs, we are not in a condition to say ; but that he succeeded 
in obtaining distinguished patronage from Fearghal [Ferral] 
O'Gara, hereditary Lord of Magh Ui Gadhra (Magh O'Grara), 
and Cuil O-bh-Finn (Cuil OTinn, or " Coolavin") (better known 
as the Prince of Coolovinn, in tlie County of SUgo), is testified 


146 OF THE ANCIENT ANNALS. in Father O'Clery's simple and beautiful Dedication of the 
work to that nobleman, of which address the following is a 
AswALs i»F literal translation [see original in Appendix, No. LXVIL] : — 
SStuI* " I beseech God to bestow every happiness that may conduce 
to the welfare of his body and soul upon Fearghal (yGadhra^ 
Lord oi Magh Ui-Gadhra, and Cuil-O-bh-Finn, one of the two 
knights of Parliament who were elected (and sent) from the 
County oi SligecLch [Sligo] to Ath-cliath [Dublin], this year of 
the age of Chiist 1634. 

" It is a thing general and plain throughout the whole world, 
in every place where nobilitj or honour nas prevailed, in each 
successive period, that notlung is more glorious, more respect- 
able, or more honourable (for many reasons), than to bring to 
light the knowledge of the antiquity of ancient authors, and a 
knowledge of the chieftains and nobles that existed in former 
times, in order that each successive generation might know how 
their ancestors spent their time and their lives, how long they 
lived in succession in the lordship of their countries, in dignity 
or in honour, and what sort of death they met. 

*'I, Michael O'Clerigh, a poor friar of the Order of St. 
Francis (after having been for ten years transcribing every old 
material which I found concerning the saints of Irel^id, observ- 
ing obedience to each provincial that was in Ireland succes- 
sively), have come before you, O noble Fearghal O'Gara. I have 
calculated on your honour that it seemed to you a cause of pity 
and regret, gnef and sorrow (for the glory of God and the ho- 
nour of Ireland), how much the race of Graedhil the son of Niul 
have passed under a cloud and darkness, without a knowledge 
or record of the death or obit of saint or virgin, archbishop, 
bishop, abbot, or other noble dignitary of the Church, of king 
or of prince, of lord or of chieftain, [or] of the synchronism or 
connexion of the one with the other. I explained to you that 
I thought I could get the assistance of the chroniclers for whom 
I had most esteem, in writing a book of Annab in which these 
matters might be put on record ; and that, should the writing 
of them be neglected at present, they would not again be found 
to be put on record or commemorated, even to the end of the 
world. There were collected by me all the best and most co- 
pious books of annals that I could find throughout all Ireland 
(though it was difficult for me to collect them to one place), to 
write this book in your name, and to your honour, lor it was 
you that gave the reward of their labour to the chroniclers, by 
whom it was; written; and it was the friars of the convent of 
Donegal that supplied them with food and attendance, in like 
manner. For every good that will result from this book, in 


giving light to all in general, it is to you that thanks should be lect. vn. 
given, and there shomd exist no wonder or surprise, jealousy or ^^ ^^^ 
envy, at [any] good that you do; for you are of the race of anmalsop 
Eiber Mac Mileadh [Heber the son of Milesius], from whomJEiSilfc 
descended thirty of the kings of Ireland, and sixty-one saints; 
and to Teadgh mac Cein mic Oilella Oluim, from whom eigh- 
teen of these saints are sprung, you can be traced, generation 
by generation. The descendants of this Tadhg [TeigeTbranched 
out, and inhabited various parts throughout Ireland, namely : 
the race of Cormac Gaileng in Luighni Connacht^ from whom 
ye, the Muintir-Gadhra^ the two Ui Eaghra in Connacht, . 
and Oh'Eaghra of the Ruta, O'CarroU of Ely, OMeachair in 
DirCairinj and O'Conor of CtanachtorGlinne-Greimhin. 

" As a proof of your coming from this noble blood we have 
mentioned, here is your pedigree : 

[Here tollows the pedigree of O'Gara], 

" On the twenty-second day of the month of January, A.D. 
1632, this book was commenced in the convent of Dun-na-ngall, 
and it was finished in the same convent on the tenth day of 
August, 1636, the eleventh year of the reign of our king Charles 
over England, France, Alba, and over jEtV^. 

" Your affectionate friend, 

" Brother Michael O'Clery". 

What a simple imostentatious address and dedication to so 
important a work ! 

O'Clery having thus collected his materials, and having found 
a patron willing both to identify himseFwith the imdertaking, 
and to defray its expenses, he betook himself to the quiet solitude 
of the monastery of Donegall, then presided over by his bro- 
ther. Father Bemardine O'Clery, where he arran^d his collec- 
tion of ancient books, and gathered about him sucn assistants as 
he had knovni by experience to be well quaUfied to carry out 
his intentions in the selection and treatment of his vast materials. 

The result of his exertions, and the nature of the great work 
thus to be produced, will perhaps appear in the most charac- 
teristic as well as complete form if I here quote the Testimonium 
signed by the fathers of the monastery of Donegall, and inserted 
in the copy of the work presented to Fergd 0*Gara. The 
following, then, is a literal translation of it [Appendix, No. 


" The fathers of the Franciscan Order who shall put their 
hands on this, do bear witness that it was Fearghal &Gadhra 
that prevailed on Brother Michael O'Clerigh to bring together 

10 b 


LECT. VII. the chroniclers and learned men, by whom were transcribed the 
Qf ^^^ books of history and Annals of Ireland (as much of them as it 
Annals of was possiblc to find to be transcribed), and that it was the same 
mI^msT Fearghal OGara that gave them a reward for their writing. 

" The book b dividSi into two parts. The place at which 
it was transcribed firom beginning to end, was the convent of the 
&iars o{ Dun-na-ngall, they supplying food and attendance. 

" The first book was begun and transcribed in the same con- 
vent this year, 1632, when Father Bernardino O'Cleiy was a 

** The chroniclers and learned men who were engaged in ex- 
tracting and transcribing this book from various books were, 
Brother Michael (yClerigh ; Maurice, the son of Toma OMcuel- 
choiiairej for one month ; Ferfeasa, the son o(Lochlainn OMael- 
chonaire, both of the Coimty of Roscommon ; CucoigcrichS (Cu- 
cogry^ O'Clerighj of the County of Donegall ; CticoigcrichS (Cu- 
cogry) O'Duibhghennainj of the County of Leitrim; and 
Conairi OClerigh^ of the County of Donegall. 

" These are the old books they had : the book of Cluain mac 
No%8 [a church], blessed by Saint Ciaran, son of the carpenter; 
the book of the Island of Saints, in Loch Ribh; the book of 
Seanadh Mic Maghnusay in Loch Erne ; the book of Clann Ua 
Maelchonaire ; the book of the O'Duigenans, of Eilronan; the 
historical book of Lecan Mic Firbisighj which was procured for 
them after the transcription of the greater part of the [work], 
and from which they transcribed all the important matter they 
found which they deemed necessary, and wnich was not in the 
first books they had ; for neither the book of Cluain nor the book 
of the Island were [carried] beyond the year of the age of our 
Lord 1227. 

■ " The second, which begins with the year 1208, was com- 
menced this year of the age of Christ 1635, in which Father 
Christopher UlUach [O'Donlevy] was guardian. 

** These are the books from which was transcribed the greatest 
part of this work ; — ^the same book of the O'Mulconrys, as far as 
the year 1505, and this was the last year which it contained ; 
the book of the O'Duigenans, of which we have spoken, fix)m 
[the year] 900 to 1563 ; the book of Seanadh Mic Maghnum^ 
whicn extended to 1532 ; a portion of the book of Cucogry, 
the son of Dermot, son of Tadhg Cam OClerigh^ firom the year 
1281 to 1537; the book of Mac Bmmdeadha (MaoUin 6g)^ 
from the year 1588 to 1602. 

" We have seen all these books with the learned men of whom 
we have spoken before, and other historical books besides them. 
In proof of everything which has been written above, the fol- 


lowing persons put their hands to this in the convent of Donegal, lect.vh. 
the tenth day of August, the age of Christ being one thousand ^^^^^ 
eix hundred and thirty-six. axvala of 

«' Bbotheb Bernardine O'Cleby, IL^^uT 

'^ Gruardian of Donegal. 

'^ Bbotheb Maurice Ulltach. 

'* Bbotheb Maubice Ulltach. 

" Bbotheb Bonaventura O'Donnell, 
" Jubilate Lector". 
Tou will have noticed that the last si^ature to this testi- 
monium is tliat of Brother Bonaventura O'Donnell. Up to the 
year 1843, this signature was read as " O'Donnell" only, and 
it is curious that the learned and acute Charles O'Conor of 
Belana^, should not only have so read it, but also written 
that this was the counter-signature of the O'Donnell, Prince of 
Donegall. The Rev. Charles O^Conor followed his grand- 
father in reading it the same way in 1825. 

It was Dr. Petrie that first identified (and purchased, at the 
sale of the library of Mr. Austin Cooper), the original volume 
of the second part of these Annals, which contains this testi- 
monium, and placed it in the library of the Royal Irish Acar 
demy. He immediately afterwards wrote a paper, which was 
read before the Academy on the 16th of March, 1831, entitled 
" Remarks on the History and Authenticity of the Autograph 
original of the Annals of the Four Masters, now deposited in 
the Library of the Royal Irish Academy". 

This profound and accomplished antiquary followed the 
O'Conors unsuspectingly, in reading these signatures, and his 
and their reading was received and adopted by all the Irish 
scholars in Dublin at the time, and for some seventeen years 
after. However, in the year 1843, the Royal Irish Academy 
did me the honour to employ me to draw up a descriptive cata- 
logue of their fine collection of Irish manuscripts. For some 
considerable time before this I had entertained a suspicion that 
O Donnelly Prince of Donegall, was a false reading of the sig- 
nature, for this, among other reasons, that there was no " O'Don- 
nell", Prince of Donegall, in existence at the time, namely, in 
the year 1636, nor for more than sixteen years before that pe- 
riod, those titles having become extinct when Hugh Roe O'Don- 
nell, and after him, Ws brother Rory, had received and adopted 
the English title of ftarl of Tirconnell at the beginning of that 
century. The first of these brothers having died in Spain in 
1602, and the second having fled from Ireland in 1607, and 
died in Rome in 1608, and no chief having been lawfully 
elected in his place, consequently there was no man living in 


uECT.vii. 1 636 who could with propriety sign the name " O'Donnell" to 
^^^^ this testimonium. And, even if there had been, it would be an 
ANNALaoF act totally unbecoming his name and house to extend the dig- 
mabtbjw. nity of his name only to a great national literary work, which had 
been compiled within his own ancient principality, yet at the 
expense of one of the chiefs of a different race and province. 

Satisfied with this argument, and seeing that there was room 
for a Christian name before the surname, when I came to de- 
scribe this volume in my catalogue I applied to the Council of 
the Academy, through the then secretary, the Rev. Dr. Todd 
(now President of the Academy), for libertjr to apply a proper 
preparation to the part of the veUum which appeared blank 
before the name O'Donnell, and between it and the margin of 
the page. The acadcmj complied with my request. I took the 
necessary means of reviving the ink, and in a little time I was 
rewarded by the plain and clear reappearance of what had not 
been before dreamt of. There, surely enough, were the name 
and the title of " Bonaventura O'Donnell ', with the words 
added, " Jubilate Lector". 

Mr. Owen Connellan was ignorant of this reading when his 
translation of this volume of me Annals was published in the 
year 1846. Dr. O'Donovan, the able editor of^the more elabo- 
rate, learned, and perfect edition of this volume, in the introduc- 
tion published by liim to that work in 1848, acknowledged 
with satisfaction the discovery I had made, justly important as 
it seemed to him at the time. In the recast of Ins introduction 
to the firet division of the work, as corrected for publication in 
1851, he has, however, only retained the reading, omitting to 
refer to what I had done, and thus leaving it uncertain at what 
time, under what circumstances, and by whom, the true read- 
ing was discovered, and these circumstances I have thought 
it but fair to myself here again to place on record. 

In making use of the rich materials thus collected, O'Clery , 
as might be expected from his education and position, took 
special care to collect from every available source, and to put 
on imperishable record, among the great monuments of the 
nation, not only the succession and obits of all the monarchs, 

f)rovincial kings, chiefs, and heads or distinguished members of 
amilies, but also, as far as he could find them, the succession 
and deaths of the bishops, abbots, superiors, superioresses, and 
other distinguished ecclesiastics and religious of the countless 
churches, abbeys, and convents of Ireland, from the first founding 
of its civil and of its religious systems, down to the year 1611. 
The work of selection and compilation having been finished, 



as we have seen, in the year 1 636, Father O'Clery, to stamp lect. vu. 
on it a character of truthiubiess and importance, carried it for ^^^^^ 
inspection to two of the most distinguished Irish scholars then akkai^of 
living, whose written approbation and signature he obtained Justwi^ 
for it; these were Flann Mac Aedhagan of Bally Mac Aedh- 
again J in the County of Tipperary, and Conor Mac Bruaideadha 
(or Brody) of CillrChaidhe and Leitir Maelain in the County of 
Clare. And, along with these, he procured for his work the 
approbations and signatures of Malachy O'Kelly, Archbishop 
of Tuam ; Baothghalach or Boetius Mac Aegan, Bishop of 
Elfinn ; Thomas Fleming, Archbishop of Dublin, Primate of 
Ireland; and Fr. Roche, Bishop of Kildare; and thus forti- 
fied with the only approbation which he deemed necessary 
to give general currency and a permanent character to his 
work, he committed it (in manuscript only) to the care of time 
and to the affection and veneration of his coimtrymen. 

Upon the chronolog;^ of the Annals Dr. O'Conor has made 
the following remarks in his Catalogue of the Stowe MSS. 
(among which is one of the original copies of this work). 

" This volume begins, like most chronicles of the middle 
ages, from the Deluge, which it dates with the Septuagint, 
Anno Mundi 2242 ; and ends with the Anglo Norman inva- 
sion of Ireland, A.p. 1171. * • * * * • 

*' Notwithstanding these approbations, there axe some glaring 
faults in these annaJs, which no partiality can disguise. The 
first, and greatest of all faults, relates to their system of chrono- 
logy. We (juarrel not with their preferring the chronology of 
the Septuagint to that of the Hebrew text: great men nave 
adopted the same system ; making the first year of our era agree 
with the year of the world 5199. But in applving it to chrono- 
logy, they commit two faults. Dating by the Christian era, 
they generally place the events four years, and sometimes five, 
before the proper year of that era, down to the year 800, when 
thev approach nearer to the true time; this is their greatest 
fault; and it is evident, from the eclipses and corresponding 
events occasionally mentioned by themselves. From the year 
800 to 1000, they differ sometimes by three years, sometimes by 
two. From the year 1000, their clironology is perfectly accu- 
rate. Their second fault is more excusable, because it is com- 
mon to all the annalists of the middle ages ; they advance the 
antiquities of their country several centuries higher than their 
own successions of kings and generations by eldest sons will 

" Following the technical chronology of Coeman, they ought 


LECT. ru. to have stated, in notes, the chronology of Flann, who preceded 
Of the Coeman, and given the Christian era accurately, as it agrees 
aknau op with the years of the Julian period, and of the Kotnan Consuls 
luanuuL and Emperors, whom they synchronise. This is Bede's method, 
and has been that of all tne best chronologers, who, by adhering 
to it, have successfully determined the chronology o£ Europe. 

" ' We see no reason for denying to Ireland a series of Kings 
older than any in Europe', says Mr. Pinkerton. 

'^ The oldest Greek writers mention Albion and leme as in- 
habited; and Pliny says, no doubt from the Phoenician annals, 
which are quoted by Festus, that the Phoenicians traded with 
those islands in the days of Midacritus, a thousand years before 
the Christian era. But to begin the pagan history of Ireland 
nearly 5000 years before that era, is absurd; and to make the 
events of the Christian period differ, by four years, fix)m the re- 

fular course of that reckoning, is not excusable. This difference, 
owever, is easily adjusted, because it is uniform down to the 
year 900, except in a very few instances, which are corrected 
and restored to their true places in the notes. 

" The grand object of the Four Masters is to give chronological 
dates, and, with die exceptions above, nothing can be more ac- 
curate. The years of foundations and destructions of churches 
and castles, the obituaries of remarkable persons, the inaugura- 
tions of kings, the battles of chiefs, the contests of clans, the ages 
of bards, abbots, bishops, etc., are given with a meagre fidebty, 
which leaves nothing to be wished for but some details of man- 
ners, which are the grand desideratum in the Chronicles of the 
British Islands'' [p. 133]. 

With all that Doctor O'Conor has so judiciously said here, I 
fully a^ee. A book, consisting of 1100 quarto pages, begin- 
ning with the year of the world 2242, and ending wim the year 
of our Lord's Incarnation 1616, thus covering the immense space 
of 4500 years of a nation's history, must be dry and meagre of de- 
tails in some, if not in all, parts of it. And although the learned 
compilers had at their disposal, or within their reach, an immense 
mass of historic details, still the circumstances under which 
they wrote were so unfavourable, that they appear to have exer- 
cised a sound discretion, and one consistent with the economy of 
time and of their resources, when they left the details of our very 
early history in the safe keeping of such ancient original records 
as from remote ages preserved them, and collected as much as 
they could make room for of the events of more modem times, 
and particularly of the eventful times in which they lived them- 
selves. This was natural ; and it must have appeared to them 
that the national history, as written of old, and then still amply 


preserved, was in less danger of being quite lost or questioned LECT.yn. 
than that more modem history which approached more nearly ^,,^ 

, . Ml 1 • *^ 1 . • 1 /» •'p Of the 

to their own era, till at last it became conversant with tacts oi ankals of 
which they were themselves witnesses, and many of the actors mI^Sm^ 
in which were personally known to them ; and so they thickened 
the records as much, I believe, as they possibly could, in the 
twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth, and particularly in 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuiies. 

This last part of the Annals was evidently intended to be a 
historjr; but it is clear that the first, perhaps for the reason I 
have just stated, was not intended to be anything more than a 
skeleton, to be at some fiiture time clotied with flesh and blood 
from the large stock of materials which might still remain, and 
which in fact has remained to the successors of the Four Mas- 
ters ; and the exact value of these materials in reference to a 
complete history will be seen when, in a future lecture, we come 
to deal with the historical tales and other detailed compositions 
containing the minute occurrences of life, and the lesser and 
more unimportant but still most interesting facts of history in 
the early ages of the country. 

You have already heard, m the quotations fi:om Dr. O'Conor, 
the opinions of the learned but sceptical Pinkerton on the an- 
tiquity of our monarchy and the general authenticity of our 
history ; let me now read for you the opinion of another Scotch- 
man, in no way inferior to mm in general literary knowledge, 
Srofound research, and accurate discrimination. I mean Sir 
ames Mackintosh, who, having become acquainted with the 
character of these Annals from iJr. O'Conor's very inaccurate 
Latin translation of the early part of them down to 1170, ac- 
cords his favourable opinion of them in the following words : — 

" The Chronicles of Ireland, written in the Irish language, 
from the second century to the landing of Henry Plantagenet, 
have been recently published with the fullest evidence of their 

genuineness. The Irish nation, though they are robbed of 
leir legends by this authentic publication, are yet by it enabled 
to boast that they possess genuine history several centuries 
more ancient than any other European nation possesses in its 
present spoken language. They have exchanged their legen- 
dary antiquity for historical fame. Indeed no other nation 
possesses any monimient of literature in its present spoken lan- 
guage, which goes back within several centuries of tnese chro- 
nicles". — History of England^ vol. i., chap. 2. 

Moore, who was less profound as an historian, and, conse- 
quently, more sceptical, remarks on this passage: "With the 
exception of the mistake into which Sir James Mackintosh has 


LECT. vn. here, rather unaccountably, been led, in supposing that, among 
Of the ^^^ written Irish chronicles which have come down to us, there 
akxals or are any so early as the second century, the tribute paid by him 
jL^iH^ to the authenticity and historical importance of these docu- 
ments appears to me in the highest degree deserved, and 
comes with more authority from a writer, whose command over 
the wide domain of history enabled him fully to appreciate any 
genuine addition to it". — Sistory of Ireland^ vol. i., p. 168. 

The poet, however, lived to doubt his own competence to 
offer such a criticism on the chronicles of his native country. 
The first volimie of his history was published in the year 1835, 
and in the year 1839, during one of nis last visits to the land of 
his birth, he, in company with his old and attached friend, Dr. 
Petrie, favoured me with quite an unexpected visit at the Royal 
Irish Academy, then in Grafton Street. I was at that penod 
employed on the ordnance survey of Ireland ; and, at the time 
of nis visit, happened to have before me, on my desk, the 
Books of Ballymote and Lecain, the Leabliar BreaCy the An- 
nals of the Four Masters, and many other ancient books, for his- 
torical research and reference. I had never before seen Moore, 
and after a brief introduction and explanation of the nature of 
my occupation by Dr. Petrie, and seeing the formidable array 
of so many dark and time-worn volumes by which I was sur- 
rounded, he looked a little disconcerted, but after a while 
plucked up courage to open the Book of Ballymote, and ask 
what it was. Dr. Petrie and myself then entered into a short 
explanation of the history and character of the books then pre- 
sent, as well as of ancient Gaedhlic documents in general. Moore 
listened with great attention, alternately scanning the books and 
myself; and men asked me; in a serious tone, if I understood 
them, and how I had learned to do so. Having satisfied him 
upon these points, he turned to Dr. Petrie, and said : " Petrie, 
these huge tomes could not have been written by fools or for 
any foolish purpose. I never knew anything about them before, 
and I had no right to have undertaken the History of Ireland'\ 
Three volumes of his history had been before this time pub- 
lished, and it is quite possible that it was the new light which 
appeared to have broken in upon him on this occasion, that 
deterred him from putting his fourth and last volume to press 
until after several years ; it is believed he was only compelled 
to do so at last by his publishers in 1846. 

I may be permitted here to observe, that what Sir James 
Mackintosh and other great writers speak of so lightly, as the *' le- 
gendary" history of Ireland, is capable of authentic elucidation 
to an extent so far beyond what they believed or supposed them 


to be, as would both please and satisfy that distinguished lect. vn. 
writer and philosopher himself, as well as all other candid ^^^^^^ 
investigators. amkalsof 

^ THK Four 


Of the Annals of the Four Masters, no perfect copy of 
the autograph is now known to exist, though the parts of tnem, 
80 strangely scattered in different localities throughout Europe, 
would make one perfect copy, and another nearly perfect. 

To begin at home, the Rojral Irish Academy holds, among its 
other treasures of ancient Irish literature, a perfect original— -I 
might say, the original — autograph copy of the Second Part of 
these Annals, fix)m the year 1170, imperfect, to the year 1(516. 

The library of Trinity College, Dublin, also contains a part 
of an autograph copy, beginning with the year 1335, and end- 
ing with the year 1603. 

Of the part preceding the year 1171, there are also two diffe- 
rent copies in existence, but unfortunately beyond the reach 
of collation or useful examination. Of these, one — which, a 
few years ago, and for some years previously, belonged to the 
ereat library of the Duke of Buckingham at Stowe — has passed 
by sale into the collection of Lord Ashbumham, where, with the 
other Irish manuscripts that accompanied it, it is very safely 
preserved from exarinnation, lest an actual acquaintance with 
their contents should, in the opinion of the very noble-minded 
owner, decrease their value as mere matters of curiosity at some 
future transfer or sale. 

How unfortunate and fatal that this volume, as well as the 
other Irish manuscripts which accompany it, and the most part 
of which were but lent to the Stowe library, should have passed 
from the inaccessible shelves of that once princely establishment 
into another asylum equally secure and unapproachable to any 
scholar of the " mere Irish' I 

At the time of the advertised sale of the Stowe Ubrary, in 
1849, the British Museum made every effort to become the pur- 
chasers, with the consent and support of the Treasury, through 
Sir Robert Peel ; but the trustees delayed so long in determining 
on what should be done, that the sale took place privately, and 
the whole collection was carried off and incarcerated in a man- 
sion some seventy miles from London. 

The late Sir Kobert Inglis and Lord Brougham were, I be- 
lieve, most anxious to have this great collection deposited in the 
British Museum ; but Mr. (now Lord) Macaulay, the Essayist, 
having been among the Museum Trustees who examined it, de- 
clared that he saw nothing in the whole worth purchasing for 
the Museum, but the correspondence of Lord Melville, a Scotch 
nobleman, on the American war ! 


LECT. VII . The second original copy of this first part is, but owing only to 
^^^ its distance from us, as inaccessible as the one in Ashbumham 
ahkals of House. It is in the Irish College of St. Isidore in Rome. The 
I2^*Sr discovery of this volume there, and of the important collection 
of manuscripts, Graedhlic and Latin, of which it forms a part, was 
made by the late learned and lamented Dean Lyons, of Bel- 
muUet, in the County of Mayo, in the years 1842 and 1843. 
This learned priest, having occasion to spend some considerable 
part of those years in Rome, was requested at his departure, by 
some fiiends of Irish literature in Dublin, to examine, should time 
permit him, the great literary repositories of the Eternal City, 
and to bring, or send home, tracings of any ancient Graedhlic ma- 
nuscripts which he might have the good fortune to light upon. 
He accordingly, on the 1st of Jime, 1842, wrote home a letter 
to the Rev Dr. Todd and to Dr. O'Donovan, apprising them 
that he had discovered, in the College of St. Isidore, several an- 
cient Gaedhlic and Latin manuscripts, which formerly belonged 
to Ireland and to Irishmen ; and on the 1st of July in me ensumg 
year of 1843, he addressed another letter to the same parties on 
the same subject. These letters contained accurate descriptions 
of the condition and extent of the Graedhlic MSS., together with 
tracings from their contents, sufficient to enable me to identify 
the cmef part of them. 

Among these MSS. at St. Isidore^s, there was found an auto- 
graph of the first part of the Annals of the Four Masters, com- 
ing down to the year 1169, with the "Approbations" and all the 
prefatory matter. This is the only autograph ofthe first part now 
known, save that formerly at Stowe ; and both being inaccessible 
at the time of the publication of the whole work a few years ago, 
the learned and able editor. Dr. O'Donovan, was obliged to use 
Dr. O'Conor s inaccurate version, only correcting it by modem 
copies here, as may be seen in his introduction. 

The novel and important discovery of this collection excited 
so great a degree of interest in Dublin at the time, that a sub- 
scription for their purchase, should it be found practicable, was 
freely and warmly talked of. 

Upon the return of Dr. Lyons to Ireland, Dr. Todd opened 
a correspondence with him as to his views of the possibility of 
the authorities in Rome consenting to the sale of these MSS. 
Dr. Lyons's answer was encouraging, and in order to prepare 
him for bringing the matter before the proper parties, he re- 
quested that 1 should draw up a short paper upon their contents, 
the importance of having them here at home, and the intrinsic 
value of the whole according to the rate at which Gaedhlic ma- 
nuscripts were estimated and sold in Dublin at the time. 


This paper, or letter, was transmitted to Rome at the time by lect. vii. 
Dr. Lyons; but his own lamented death occurring shortly after, ^^^^^ 
the correspondence through that channel was interrupted, and a^jnalbof 
the famine having set in about the same time, the spirit of the SliTCK^* 
country was checked, objects of more immediate importance 

J>re88ea themselves on the minds of men, and the subject was 
brgotten for a time. There are, however, in Dublin a few spi- 
rited men, who, within the last two years, have offered a hand- . 
some sum of money from their private purses for those manu- 
scripts for public purposes ; but they seem not to have been able 
to convey their proposal through an eligible channel, and so no 
satisfactory result has followed their laudable endeavours. 

I may perhaps be pardoned for adding here, that the short ca- 
talogue of the St. Isidore manuscripts which I drew up for Dean 
Lyons, and which he transmitted to Rome, was subsequently 
published without acknowledgment, by the Rev. J. Donovan, 
m the third volume of his "Ancient and Modern Rome". 

To resume. It will be remembered that in Michael O'Clery's 
address to Fergal O'Gara he pays him, along with many others, 
the following compliment: — 

" For every good that will result from this book, in giving 
light to the people in general, it is to you that thanks should 
be given, and there should exist no wonder or surprise, jealousy, 
or envy at any good that you do, for you are of the race of 
Eber mac MileadK*^ etc., etc. 

On this passage the editor. Dr. Donovan, comments some- 
what unnecessanly, I think, in the following words : — 

" If O'Donnell were in the coimtry at the time, he ought to 
have felt great envy and jealousy that the Four Masters should 
have committed this work, which treats of the O'Donnells more 
than of any other family, to the world under the name and 
patronage of any of the rival race of Oilioll Oluim, much less 
to so petty a chieftain of that race as O'Grara. This will appear 
obvious from the Contention of the Bards". 

Nothing, however, appears more obvious from the Conten- 
tion of the Bards, than (as I have already shown and as is 
proved by Annluan Mac -^gan's acknowledgment) that the 
northern Bards were worsted m the contest ; and nothing has 
been put forward to show O'Donneirs superior claims to the 
patronage of a historical work, but that his own family figures 
more conspicuously in it than any other of the nation. This 
argument, however, on inquiry, will scarcely be foimd to hold 
good, and before I pass on it may perhaps be worth while to 
answer it at once by referring to some few statistics of family 
names occurring in these Annals. 


LECT. VII. The name of ODonnell of Donegall, I find, appears with 
^^^^ Christian names 210 times, and imder the general name of 
AssAiB oT O'Donnell only 78 times, making an aggregate of 288 times. 
lusTsi^ Now the O'Briens (the rival race of Ouioll Oluim), appear 
with Christian names 233 times, and under the general name 
of O^Briens 21 times, making an aggregate of 254 times in 
every way ; so that, even as the annals stand, there is no great 
. difference in this respect. And it is certain that if the O'CTerys 
had swelled their Annals with entries from Mac Grath's Wars 
of Thomond, from the year 1272 to the year 1320, as they 
have filled them, from the local history, with the achievements 
of the O'Donnells from the year 1472 to the year 1600, the 
names of the O'Briens would be found far to outnumber those 
of the O'Donnells. Besides this, the O'Donnells had no pre- 
tension to extreme jealousy with the race of Oilioll Oluimy as the 
former onljr became known as chiefs of Tirconnell, on the de- 
cay or extmctlon of the more direct lines of Conall Gulban in 
they year 1200, whereas the Mac Carthys represented the line 
of jEoghan Mor, the eldest son of Oilioll Oluim, from the year 
1043 ; and the O'Briens represented Cormac Cas, the second 
son of Oilioll Oluim, from the battle of Clontarf, in the year 
1014. But what is somewhat singular, in reference to Dr. 
O'Donovan's remark, and as shown by these statistics, is, that 
the O'Gara represents Cian, another son of Oilioll Oluim, in 
their ancient principality of Luighni or Leyney, in Sligo, from 
a period so far back as the year 932 ; that is, the name of the 
O'Gara is older even than that of Mac Carthy by more than 
100 years ; than that of O'Brien by about 80 years ; and than 
that of O'Donnell by about 300 years. 

As a small tribute of respect, then, fairly, I think, due to the 
O'Gara family as the patrons of the splendid work of the 
O'Clerys, it may be permitted me to insert here from these 
Annals the succession of their chiefs, from the year 932 to the 
year 1495, after which (and it is rather singular), they dis- 
appear from the work. [See Appendix, No. LXIX.] 

I have devoted the entire of the present lecture to a very 
summary accoimt of the greatest body of Annals in existence 
relating to Irish History. The inmiense extent of the work 
would indeed render it impossible for me to include in one 
lecture, or even in two or three lectures, anything like an ade- 
quate analysis of the vast mass and comprehensive scope of the 
history contained in it. I have, therefore, confined myself to 
some explanation of the nature and plan of the labours of the 
Four Masters, that you may understand at least what it was 


they undertook to do, and that you may know why it is that lect.vh. 
this magnificent compilation has ever since been regarded by ^^ 
true scholars, and doubtless will ever be looked up to, as of the annau o» 
most certain and unimpeachable authority, and as affording a I£^Sm^ 
safe and solid foundation for the labours of future historians. It 
is fortunate, however, that the Annals of the Four Masters are 
no longer like the other Annals, of which I have riven you 
some account, preserved only in the almost inaccessible recesses 
of a few libraries of MSS. It is fortunate that you can now 
consult for yourselves (in the pages of a beautifully printed 
edition), those invaluable records, whose importance it has been 
my object in this lectiure shortly to explain to you, and which, 
if you would acquire an accurate acquaintance with your 
country's history, you must diligently study again and again. 

Portions of these Annals had been published before the ap- 
pearance of the great volumes to which I aUude. 

The Rev. Charles O'Conor, librarian to the late Duke of 
Buckingham, printed, in 1826, an edition of what is called the i 
First Part of those Annals (that part, namely, which ends at 
the year 1171, or about the period of the Norman Invasion). It 
occupies the whole of the third volume of his Rerum Sibemi- 
carum Scriptores, a large quarto of 840 pages. It is printed 
from the autograph text in the Stowe library, and the editor 
has given the Irish text (but in Latin characters), as well as a 
translation and copious notes in the Latin language. This edi- 
tion is certainly valuable, but it is very inaccurate. I need not, 
however, occupy your time with any detailed account of it, not 
only because it nas been since superseded by a work of real au- 
thority, b>'t because I have already discussed (and shall have 
reason agton to observe at some little length on) the literary ca- 
pability and the historical knowledge of the reverend editor. 

A translation of the Second Part of the Annals, that is, 
from A.D. 1171 to the end of the work at ad. 1616, was pub- 
lished in Dublin in 1846, by the late B, Geraghty, of Anglesea 
Street The original Irish is not given in this edition, but 
the translation was made by Mr. Owen Connellan from a copy 
transcribed some years before by him from the autograph in tne 
library of the Royal Irish Academy. This volume, though con- 
taining only the translation, extencis to 720 pp., large 4to, closely 
printed in double columns, with notes by Dr. Mac Dermott. 

I have mentioned both these publications only because it 
would be improper to omit noticing the fact that such attempts 
had been made to place the substance of the Annals in the hands 
of the reading public at large. But I need not enter into any 
criticism upon the labours of Mr. Connellan any more than those 

160 OF THE AKCIEKT AKKALS. of Dr. O'Conor. For the Annals of the Four Masters are now 
Qj^jj^ at last accessible to all, in a form the most perfect as regards 
AKWAL8 0F typography, and the most copious and correct as regards 
iSI^TuuT translation and annotation, that the anxious student of our 
history can desire. I allude, of course, to the magnificent work 
to which I have already more than once referred, edited by 
Dr. John O'Donovan, and published to the world, in 1851, 
by Mr. Greorge Smith, of Grafton Street. It is to this edition 
that in future every student must applj himself, if he desires to 
acquire only reliable information ; it is, in the present state of 
our knowledge, the standard edition of that work, which must 
form the basis of all fruitful study of the history of Ireland ; and it 
is in consequence of this, its peculiar character, that I feel bound 
to lay so strong an emphasis upon my recommendation of Dr. 
O'Donovan's Annals to your special, if not exclusive, attention. 
Dr. 0'Donovan*s work is in seven large quarto volumes ; and 
the immense extent of the O'Cleiys' labours may be imagined 
by those of my hearers who have not yet opened these splendid 
books, when I inform them that the seven volumes contain no 
less than 4,215 pa^es of closely printed matter. The text is 
given in the Irish character, and is printed in the beautiful type 
employed in the printing office of Trinity College, and tne 
forms of which were carefiiUy drawn from the earhest authori- 
ties by the accurate and elegant hand of my respected friend. 
Dr. Fetrie. The translation is executed with extreme care. 
The immense mass of notes contains a vast amount of informa- 
tion, embracing every variety of topic — ^historical, topographical, 
and genealogical — ^upon which tne text requires elucidation, 
addition, or correction ; and I may add, that of the accuracy 
of the researches which have borne fruit in that information, I 
can myself, in almost every instance, bear personal testimony. 
There is but one thing to be regretted in respect of Dr. O'Don- 
ovan's text, and that is the circumstance to which I have 
already called your attention. In the absence of both of the 
autograph MSS. of the First Part of the work (that is, before 
A.D. 1171), one of which is kept safe from the eye of every 
Irish scholar in the Stowe collection, now in the possession of 
Lord Ashbumham, while the other still remains in the Library 
of St. Isidore's, in Rome, the editor was obliged to take Dr. 
O'Conor's inaccurate text, correcting it, as best he could, by 
collation with two good copies whicn exist in Dublin. The 
second part of the annals is printed from the autograph MS. in 
the Royal Irish Academy, compared with another autograph 
copy in Trinity College. The text of this part is, therefore, 
absolutely firee from errors. 




This noble work, extending to so great a length, and occu- lect. 
pied (notes as weU as text) with so many thousands of subjects, ^^ ^^^ 
personal and historical, had need of an Index as copious as a»kal8o» 
Itself to complete its practical importance as a book of reference. ^^' 
This great labour has been included in the plan of Dr. O'Do- 
novans publication, and the student will find appended to it 
two complete Indexes, one to all the names of persons, the other 
to all the names of places referred to throughout the entire. 
So that, in the form m which the work appears, as well as in 
the substantial contents of these splendid volumes, there is 
absolutely nothing left to be desired. 

Upon the leammg and well earned reputation of the editor. 
Dr. O'Donovan, it would ill become me, for so many years his 
intimate fellow labourer in the long imtrodden path of Irish 
historical inquiry, to enlaree. But I cannot pass from the 
subject of this lecture without recording the grateful sense 
which I am sure all of you (when you examine the magaificent 
volumes of which I have been speaking) must feel, as I do, of 
the singular public spirit of Mr. George Smith, at whose sole 
risk and expense this vast publication was undertaken and com- 
pleted. There is no instance that I know of, in any country, 
of a work so vast being undertaken, much less of any com- 
pleted in a style so perfect and so beautiful, by the enterprise 
of a private publisher. Mr. Smith's edition of the Annals was 
brought out m a way worthy of a great national work, — ^nay, 
worthy of it, had it been undertaken at the public cost of a 
great, rich, and powerful people, as alone such works have 
been undertaken m other countries. And the example of so 
much spirit in an Irish publisher — ^the printing of such a book 
in a city like Dublin, so long shorn of metropolitan wealth as 
well as honours— cannot fail to redound abroad to the credit of 
the whole country, as well as to that of our enterprising fellow- 
citizen. As, then, the memory of the Four Masters themselves 
will probably be long connected with the labours and name of 
their annotator. Dr. O'Donovan, so also I would not have any of 
you forget what is due to the publisher of the first complete edi- 
tion of me Annals when you open it, as I hope every student of 
this national University will often and anxiously do, to apply 
yourselves to study the great events of your country's history in 
the time-honourea records collected by the O'Clerys. 



[DellTered Jolj 7, IBSS.] 

Of the other Works of the Four Masters. The ** Saccession of the Emgs**. 
The ** Book of InTasioiis\ O'Clery's Glossary. 

In my last lecture I concluded the subject of the various 
regular Annals which have come down to us. In connection 
with the subject of the last and greatest of these invaluable 
compilations, the Annals of the Four Masters, it became my 
duty, in explaining how that noble work was undertaken, to 
oflFer you some short account of the O'Clerys, its principal 
authors, and their learned associates. Before I pass, then, to 
an examination of the various other sources from which the 
student will have to draw the materials of the yet unwritten 
History of Erinn, it will perhaps be convenient that I should 
here conclude what I have to say to you upon the other histo- 
rical works handed down to us by the Four Masters. These 
works (alluded to in that preface of Colgan's which you heard 
quoted at such length in the last lecture) are all to a great 
extent parallel with that which last engaged our attention. 
Their plan is not the same; and, though a great number of 
facts are recorded in all the several series of the O'Clerys' 
writings, the details are rarely repeated; and each of these 
books, contemporaneous in execution as they were, must be 
studied as the necessary complement of the others of them. It 
is much to be regretted, that none of them, as yet, has met 
with the good fortune of the Annals, in being published in any 
form to the world; and I am sure, when you have become 
aware of their extent and value, you will jom with me in the 
hope that the present generation may see these works also of 
our great annahsts brought out in a style worthy of the splendid 
volumes edited by Dr. O'Donovan. 
The sucTKs '^^^ ^^* ^^ ^^ historical books of the O'Clerys, referred to 
sioHorxHit by Colgan, to which I shall direct your attention, is that called 
the Reim Rioghraidhe [pron : nearly, " Rem Ree-riah"], or Suc- 
cession OF THE Kings. And, as you are now acquainted with 
the manner in which the masters approach their subjects, in 
these serious historical compositions, perhaps the best course 


I can take to-day is to open at once the author's Preface to lbct. vni. 
the Rdm RioghraidhS, of which the following maj be taken as ^^ socoEa- 
a sufficiently accurate translation fsee original m Appendix bion of thk 
No. LXX.] :- ^"^''• 

" In nomine Dei. Amen. 

" On the third day of the month of September, Anno 
Christi 1644, this book was commenced to be written, in the 
house ofConall, son of Niall, son of Rossa Mageoghegan, of Lios 
Maighni^ in Cenel Fhiachach (in Westmeath), one by whom are 
prized and preserved the ancient monuments of our ancestors ; 
one who is the industrious collecting Bee of everything that be- 
longs to the honour and history of the descendants of Milesius 
and of Lugaidhj son of Ith, both lay and ecclesiastical, as far as 
he could find tliem. And what is written in this book is, 
the Reim Rioghraidhi (the Succession of the Kings), and the 
history of the Saints of Erinn, which are now corrected and 
amended by these persons following — viz., the Friar Michael 
O'Clery, Ferfeasa O'Mulconry, and CticoigcrichS O'Duigenan, 
all of them persons learned in the Irish language. And it is 
taken from the principal ancient Books of Erinn, in the Con- 
vent of Athlone, as we have before stated [it does not appear 
where] ; as well as from the historical poem, written by Uilla 
Caomhain OCidmin^ which begins {EirS 6g inis na naomh) 
(Virgin Eire, Island of Saints), and another poem, written by 
Aenffus Mac an Ghobhann (Aengus CeilS Di^ or the Culdee), 
which begins, ^ Naomhsheanehus naomh InsS FdiV (the sacred 
history of the saints of Inis Fail), and another poem, which 
begins ' Athair chdigh chuirmigh nimhe' (Father of all. Ruler of 

" This book contains also the Book of Rights, which was 
oriffinally ordered by Saint Benean, and is copied from a book 
which was written by the aforesaid Conall [Mageoghegan] on 
the 4th of August, 1636, from theBook of Lecain, which had been 
lent to him by the Protestant Primate [Ussher], which Book of 
Lecain was written a long time before that, by AdamMor O'Cuir- 
nin for Gilla laa Mdr Mac Firbis, Ollamn of Vi-Fhiachrach, 
Anno Domini 1418; and Morroch Riabhach OCoinlisg wrote 
more of it, in the house of Rory O'Dowda, King of Hy- 
Fiachrach of the Moy. The present book contains, besides, 
the history of the cause why the Boromean tribute was imposed 
on the Lagenians, and the person by whom it was imposed ; 
and the history of the coming of the Delvians (Mac Cochlan) 
into * Conn's Half' of Erinn, out of Munster. It contains, also, 
the history of the cause why Feniua Farsaidh went to learn 


1.KCT. vm. poetry to the Tower of Nimrod, in preference to any other 
The succBs- P^*^^ > ^^^ ^^ names of the various languages that were known 

MOMorxHB at that time, and from which the Gaedlilic language was 
"*^ brought away by Gaedhel, the son of Etlieor^ from whom it 
derives its name. And it contains an account of the death of 
Conn of the hundred battles. It also contains the seven fatali- 
ties of the monarchs of Erinn, and the fatalities of the pro- 
vincial kings in like manner; and the poem which begins 
Roileag laoch leithe Cuinn (the burial place of the heroes of 
Conns Half) [of Erinn], which was completed, and finished, 
and put into tms book, on the 25th day of September of that 
same year before mentioned (1644), by the Friar Paul O'Colla, 
of the order of Saint Francis, in the house of the aforesaid 
Conall [Mageoghegan]. It Ukewise contains the pedigrees of 
the monarchs of Erinn, and the length of time that each 
reigned ; and it contains the genealogies of the Irish saints as 
they have been collected from the books of the old writers, set 
down according to their descent, in alphabetical order ; [all] to 
the glory of God, and the honour of the saints and of the 
kingdom ; and to difiiise the knowledge and intelligence of the 
things aforesaid, and of the authors who preserved the history 
of Erinn, before and after the introduction of Christianity. 
Finished in the Observantine Convent of Athlone, in the 
Bishopric of Clonmacnois, 1630". 

[It is observable that the authors profess to include, in a single 
book, not only the succession of the kings, but also the gene- 
alogy of such of the saints of Erinn as descended from tnem, 
and which Colgan treats as a separate work.] 

The following is O'Clery's Dedication [see original in Appen- 
dix, No. LXXL] : — 

" To Torloch Mac Cochlain". 

" After I, the poor Friar Michael O'Clery, had been four 
years, at the command of my superior, engaged in collecting 
and bringing together all that I could find of the history of the 
saints of Ireland, and of the kings to whom their pedigrees are 
carried up, it occurred to me that it woidd not be judicious to 
put that collection into other langvuges^^^^ without the authority, 
proof, and inspection of other historians. I also considered 
that the aforesaid work could not be finished without expense. 
But such was the poverty of the order to wliich I belong, on 
account of their vow and the oppressions of the time, that I 
was obliged to complain of it to gentlemen who were not bound 

(40) It is to be remembered that I urn not transcribing from the autograph 


to poverty by vow. And, among those to whom I made my ^ect. vtii. 
complaint, I found no one to relieve my anxiety towards _ ' 

bringing this work to completion, but one person who was «ok of thb 
willing to assist me, to the promotion of the glory of God, the ^*^**®- 
honour of the saints and the kingdom, and the good of his own 
soul. And that one person is Torloch Mac Cochlain. [Here 
follows the pedigree of Mac Cochlain.] And it was this Tor- 
loch Mac Cochlain that forwarded this work, and that kept 
together the company that were engaged in completing it, along 
with the private assistance given by the aforesaid convent every 
day. On the 4th day of October, therefore, this book was com- 
menced, and on the 4th day of November, it was finished, in 
the convent of the friars before mentioned, in the fifth year of 
the king Charles of England, 1630^. 

It is remarkable that we have not the autograph original of 
any part of these two books, or rather this one book, now in 

After this Dedication, or notice, follows, in the original, an 
Address to the reader [see original in Appendix, No. LXXII.], 
much of which is so characteristic of the simple enthusiasm of 
the writer, and so pathetic in the appeal it contains to the ten- 
derness of Graedhhc patriotism, that I cannot omit to lay it 
before you. " Strangers", says Michael O'Clery, " have taken 
the principal books of Erinn mto strange countries and among 
unknown people*. You have heard of many new instances 
of this hard fat« of our most ancient books since O'Clery's 
time, and of the difficulties and annoyances which the humble 
followers of our great historians have met with in their re- 
searches, even in our own days, from the same cause. It is 
remarkable enough, that of the three books of the 0*Clerys 
which Colgan spoke of, we do not possess, to-day, the original 
of any one in this country. 

'* Address to the reader 

" What true children are there that would not feel pity and 
distress, at seeing, or hearing of, their excellent mother and 
nurse being placed in a condition of indignity and contempt, 
of dishonour and contumely, without makmg a visit to her to 
bring her solace and happiness, and to give her assistance and 

" Upon its having been observed by certain parties of the 
natural order of Saint Francis, that the holiness and righteous- 
ness of their mother and nurse — Erinn — had perceptibly dimi- 
nished, for not having the lives, wonders, ana miracles of her 
saints disseminated within her, nor yet made known in other 


1.ECT. vni. kingdoms ; the counsel they adopted was, to send from them 
The spccEa- ^^ Erinn a poor Friar Mmor of their own, the Observantine 
flioH OF THK Order, Michael O'Clery (a chronicler by descent and education), 
^^^^ in order to collect and bring to one place all the books of 
authority in which he could discover anything that related to 
the sanctity of her saints, with their pedigrees and genealogies. 
" Upon the arrival of the aforesaid friar, he sought and 
searched through every part of Erinn in which he had heard 
there was a good or even a bad book [i.e. Gaedhlic MS.] ; so 
that he spent four full years in transcribing and procuring the 
matters that related to the saints of Erinn. However, though 
great his labour and his hardships, he was able to find but a 
few out of the many of them, because strangers had carried off 
the principal books of Erinn into remote and unknown foreign 
coimtries and nations, so that they have left her but an insigni- 
ficant part of her books. 

"And, after what the aforesaid fiiar could find had been 
collected to one place, what he thought of and decided to do 
was this — viz., to bring together and assemble in one place, 
three persons whom he should consider most befitting and most 
suitable to finish the work which he had undertaken (with the 
consent of his superiors), for the purpose of examining all the 
collections that he had made. These were — Ferfedsa O'Mul- 
conry, from Bally Mulconry, in the County of Koscommon ; 
Cucoigcrichi O'Clery, from Bally Clery, in the County of 
Donegal; and Cucoigcrichi O'Duigenann from Baile'CoUle' 
foghair [now Castlefore], in the Coimty of Leitrim. These 
persons, then, came to one place; and, having come, the four 
of them decided to write the Roll of the monarchs of Erinn at 
the beginning of the book. They determined on this for two 
reasons. The first reason, because the pedi^ees of the saints 
could not have been brought to their origm, without having the 
pedigrees of the early kings placed before them, because it was 
&om them they descended. The second reason, in order that, 
the duty and devotion of the noble people to their saints, their 
successors, and their churches, should be the greater, by their 
having a knowledge of their relationship and friendship with 
their blessed patrons, and of the descent of the saints from the 
stem from which each branch of them sprung, and the number 
of the saints of the same branch. 

" And there is, indeed, a considerable section of the saints 
of Erinn whose names may be found abeady entered in proper 
order in old genealogical books, without intermixture of descent, 
the one with the other of them, as they branch off and separate 
from their original stems. 


" Whoever thou art, then, O reader I we leave it to thyself 
to pjerceive that thou wilt find profit, sense, knowledge, and^^g^^^^^^ 
brevity in this work. For the entire succession of the kings, «oi» of tub 
with their pedigrees to their origin, will be found in it, in the ^^^ 
order in which they obtained the sovereignty in succession ; 
together with the number of their years, the age of the world 
at the end of the reign of each king of them, and the age of our 
Lord Jesus firom His Incarnation to the death of each, down to 
the death of Malachy the Great [in a.d. 1022]. And the 
saints are given according to their alphabetical order, and their 
origin, as we have already said. Glory be unto God. 
" Your loving friends. 

Brother Michael O'Clery. 

Ferfiasa O'Mulconry. 

CiLCoigcrichi O'Clery. 

CticoigcricM O'Duigenan". 
The autograph of this valuable work is in the College of 
St. Isidore at Rome. There is, however, a copy of it in the 
library of Trinity College, Dublin, made by Maurice O'Gorman, 
about the year 1760 ; and another copy in the Royal Irish Aca- 
demy, made by Richard Tipper, in me year 1716 ; but neither 
of them contains the Book of Rights, spoken of above. The 
list of saints is confiined to the saints mentioned in the poem 
before referred to, which begins " The Sacred History of the 
Saints of InisfaiF ; and is different from the Martyrology of 
Donegall, compiled by the same pious and learned fnar ana his 

The plan of this book, as you will have already seen, was, 
first, to give the succession of the Monarchs of Erinn, from 
the remotest times down to the death of Turlogh O'Conor, in 
A.D. 1156, imder their respective years of the age of the world 
and of our Lord, according to the chronology of the Septua- 
gint. And, second, to carry back to, and connect with, the 
kings of this long line the generations of such of the primitive 
and chief saints of Ireland as descended from them, down to 
the eighth centurjr. 

This list of pedigrees of the saints extends only to the names of 
those found in the poem already mentioned, which begins, " The 
Sacred History of the Saints of Inis Fair. Nor are these given 
promiscuously, but in classes ; such as all the saints that descend 
from Conall Gulhan, in one class ; all the saints that descend 
from Eoghan^ his brother, in another class ; all the saints that 
descend from Colla Uaisj in another class ; all the saints that 
descend from Oilioll Oluim, in another class ; all the saints that 
descend from Cathair Mdr, King of Leinster, in another class ; 


LECT. vin. and so on, throughout the four provinces. Festival days, and 
Th succF * ^^^ historical notes, are added to some of them. 
8ii)K0FTHB The poem &om which this list of saints has been drawn is 
^^^^ ascribed, in the prefiice, to Aengus Ceili Di (or the Culdee) ; 
but this must be a mistake, as the composition of this poem is 
totally inferior in style, vigour, and purity of diction, to any 
other piece or fragment of the metncal compositions of that 
remarkable man that has come down to our time. It is remark- 
able, however, that although Michael O'Clery in the preface 
ascribes this poem to Aengus, yet, when we come to where it 
commences m the book, we find Eochaidh OCleircein set 
down as the author of it This writer flourished in a.d. 1000, 
or two hundred years later than Aengus. The poem certainly 
belongs to this period, and appears to have been founded on 
Aengus's prose tract on the pedigrees of the Irish saints ; and 
whctner O'Clery fell into a mistake in ascribing it to Aengus, 
or whether Maurice O'Gorman, the transcriber of the present 
copy, committed a blunder, we have here now no means of 

The book in Trinity College, Dublin, is a small octavo, of 
370 pages, in two volumes, and would make about 200 pages 
of O Donovan's Annals of the Four Masters. 

The Book OF The Leobhar Gabhdla, or " Book of Invasions" (or " Con- 
IMVA8I0K8. quests"), — the third of those alluded to by Colgan, — is perhaps 
the most important of the three. It contains an ample record 
of those traditions of the successive early colonizations of Ire- 
land, which, in the most ancient times, appear to have been re- 
garded as true history, but which were not inserted at length in 
tne Annals of Donegall. Upon the authenticity of these tradi- 
tions, or ancient records (if, mdeed, they have come down to us 
in the form in which they really were believed two diousand 
years ago), this is not the place to enter into any discussion. 
The object of the O'Clerys appears, however, to have been 
simply to collect and put in order the statements they found in 
the ancient books; and, as before, I shall let the Preface and 
Address of the author of the " Book of Invasions" explain that 
object in his own words. 

The following is the Dedication, prefixed to his Leahhar 
Gabhdla [see onginal in Appendix, No. LXXIII.] : — 

" I, the friar Michael O'Clery, have, by permission of my 
superiors, undertaken to purge of error, rectiiy, and transcribe 
this old Chronicle called Leahhar Gabhdla^ that it may be to 
the glory of God, to the honour of the saints and the kingdom 


of Erinn, and to the welfare of my own soul. This under- l^ct. ^^II. 
taking I could not accomplish without the assistance of other 
chromcleis at some fixed abode. Upon communicating my in- SvAsuIjiL.**^ 
tention to thee, O ! Brien Roe Maguire, Lord of Enniskillen 
[Inia Cethlion7i\ , the fii*st of the race of Odhar who received 
that title (which thou didst from his Majesty Charles, King of 
England, France, Scotland, and Ireland, on the 21st of January, 
in the year of our Lord Christ 1627, and the third year of the 
king's reign), thou didst take in hand to assist me to commence 
and conclude my undertaking, because thou didst deem it a pity 
to leave in oblivion and unencouraged a work which would exalt 
the honour of thine own ancestors, as well as of the saints, nobles, 
and history of Erinn in general. After having, then, received 
thine assistance, I myself, and the chroniclers whom, by the 

Sjrmission of the Church, I selected as assistants, viz., Fearfeasa 
'Mulconry, Cucoigry O'Clery , Cucoigry O'Duigenan, and thine 
own chief chronicler, Gillapatrick O'Luinin, went, a fortnight 
before AUhallow-tide, to the convent of Lisgoole, in the diocese 
of Clogher, in Fermanagh, and we remained there together until 
the foUowing Christmas, by which time we had succeeded in 
completing our undertaking, under thy assistance, Lord Maguire. 

" On the 22nd day of October, the corrections and comple- 
tion of this Book of Invasions were commenced, and on the 
22nd of December the transcription was completed in the con- 
vent of the friars aforesaid, in the sixth year of the reign of 
King Charles over England, France, Scotland, and Ireland, and 
in the year of our Lord 1631. 

" Tlune affectionate friend, Brother Michael O'Clery'*. 

The Preface, or Address to the Reader, follows [see original 
in Appendix No. LXXIV.] : — 

" It aj)peared to certain of the people, and to me, the poor 
simple friar Michael O'Clery from Tirconnell, one of the native 
friars of the convent of Donegall, whose inheritance it is from 
my ancestors to be a chronicler, that it would be a charity for 
some one of the men of Erinn to jmrify, compile, and re-write 
the ancient honoured Chronicle which is called the Book of In- 
vasions, for these reasons. The first reason : My superiors hav- 
ing charged me to collect the Lives and Genealogies of the 
Saants of Erinn from all places in which I could find them 
throughout Erinn, after having done this, I selected associate 
chroniclers to adjust, purify, and write as much as I could find 
of this historjr of the saints, as well as the succession of the mo- 
narchs of Ennn, to whom the pedigrees of the saints are carried 
up, as may be seen in the book in which they are written. After 
that, it occurred to me that the work of which I have spoken 


LECT. vm. was incomplete without correcting and writing the Book of In- 
The Book or ^^^^^ already mentioned, because it is the original fountain of 
iNVAsioMd. the history of the saints and kings of Erinn, of her nobles and 
her people. 

'^ Another reason too : I was aware that men, learned in Latin 
and in English, had commenced to translate this Chronicle of 
Erinn from the Gaedhlic into these languages that we have 
spoken of, and that they had not so profound a knowledge of the 
Gaedhlic as that they could put the hard and the soft parts of 
the said book together without ignorance or error ; and I felt 
that the translation which they would make must (for want of a 
knowledge of the Gaedhlic) become an eternal reproach and 
disgrace to all Erinn, and particularly so to her chroniclers. It 
was for these reasons that I undertook, with the permission of 
my superiors, to purify and compile this book, and to collect for 
it, from other books, all that was wanting to it in history and in 
other learning, as much as we could, according to the space of 
time which we had to write it. 

" The chroniclers who were with us for this purpose, and for 
purifying the book, were, Fearfeasa O'Mulconry, from the 
County of Roscommon ; Cucoigry O'Clery , from Bally Clery, in 
the County of Donegall ; Cucoigry O'Duigenann, from Bally- 
Coilliifoghair, in the County of Leitrim; and Giollapatrick 
OLuinin, from Ard Ui Luinin, in the County of Fermanagh. 

" It is right that you should know that it was ancient writers 
of remote times, and commemorating elders of great age, that 
preserved the history of Erinn in chronicles and books in suc- 
cession, from the period of the Deluge to the time of St. Patrick, 
who came in the fourth year of the reign otLaeghairi mac JVeillj 
monarch of Erinn, to plant religion and devotion in her; when 
he blessed Erinn, men and boys, women and girls, and built 
numerous churches and towns throughout the land. 

" Saint Patrick, after all this, invited unto him the most 
illustrious authors of Erinn at that period, to preserve the chroni- 
cles, synchronisms, and genealogies of every colony that had 
taken possession of Erinn, down to that period. Those that 
he invited unto him, at that time, were Ros ; Dubhthach, the 
son of Ua Lughair; Ferghus, etc. These were the sustaining 
pillars of the History of Erinn, in the time of Saint Patrick. 

" St. Colum CiUe, St. Finnen of Cluain lorard [Clonard], 
and St. Comgall, of Beannchuir [Bangor, in the County Down], 
and the other saints of Erinn, induced the authors of their time 
to perpetuate and amplify the history and synchronisms exist- 
ing in their day. It was so done at their re<juest. The authors 
of the period of these saints, as is manifest in the latter part of 


Eochaidh OTlinn's poem, were, Ftontain, the son of Bochna; lect. viii. 
TWn, the son of Cairelly son oiMuiredhach Muinderg, of the Dal ^^ ^^^ ^^ 
Fiatach; and Dalian Forgaill^ the illustrious author and saint. isvAsiosa. 

" The histories and synchronisms of Erinn were written and 
tested in the presence of these illustrious saints, as is manifest in 
the great books which were named after the saints themselves, 
and from their great churches ; for there was not an illustrious 
church in Erinn that had not a great book of history named 
fix)m it, or from the saint who sanctified it. It would be easy, 
too, to know, from the books which the saints wrote, and the 
songs of praise which they composed in Gaedhlic, that they them- 
selves, and their churches, were the centres of the true know- 
ledge, and the archives and homes of the manuscripts of the 
authors of Erinn, in the olden times. 

" Sad evil ! short was the time until dispersion and decay 
overtook the churches of the saints, their relics, and their books ; 
for there is not to be found of them now, but a small remnant, 
that has not been carried away into distant countiies and foreign 
nations ; carried away so that their fate is not known from that 
time hither. 

" The Books of Invasions which were present [t.^., which 
we had by us], at the writing of these Conquests of Erinn, 
were, the Book of Bally Mulconry, which Maurice, the son 
of Paidin O'Mulconry, transcribed out of the Leabhar-na- 
A- UidhrSj which was written at Cluainmicnois in Saint Ciaran's 
tame ; the Book of Bally Clery, which was written in the time 
of Mehheachlainn Afor, the son of Domnall [king of Ireland, 
who began his reign in the year 979] ; tlie Book of the O'Dui- 
genanns, from Seanchua in Tirerill, and which is called the 
Book of Glenn-da-locha; and the Book of the Ua Chonghail; 
together with other Books of Invasions and history, beside them. 

" The sum of the matters to be found in the following book 
is the taking of Erinn by [the Lady] Ceasair; the takmg by 
Pariholan; the taking by Nemedh; me taking by the Firbolgs ; 
the taking by the Tuatha De Danann; the taking by the sons 
of Mikdh [or Miletius] ; and their succession down to the mo- 
narch Mehheachlainn^ or Malachy the Great [who died in 1022] . 

" We have declined to speak of the Creator s first order, of 
the created things, the heavens, the angels, time, and the great 
uncreated mass out of which the four elements were formed, by 
the Divine will alone, in the six days work, with all the animals 
that inhabit the land, the water, and the air ; because it is to 
divines that it belongs to speak of these things, and because we 
have not deemed any of these things to be necessary to our work, 
with God's help. It is with men and time only that we deem 


LECT. vm. it proper to begin oiir work^**\ that is to say, from the creation 
The Book of ^^ ^^ ^^^ man, Adam, whose descendants, our ancestors, we 
iKVAaioKs. shall follow in the direct line, generation after generation, to 
the conclusion of this undertaking, with the end of the reign 
of Malachy the Great, son of Domnall, who was the last undis- 
puted king of Erinn within herself; and we have proceeded, 
m this work, upon the authority of the Graedhlic chroniclers who 
have preceded us ; and we have adopted the rule of computation 
of the ages, as they have been foimdinthe well- attested faithful 
archives of the Church of Christ. For it is founded upon the 
authority and faithfulness of the Holy Scriptures ; and we shall 
show below how link by link this rule of computation fixes the 
course of ages, in point and in perfection, from Adam to the 
birth of Christ down, and down again to the departure of the 
sovereignty from our nobles, as it was willed by God. We 
give the computation of the Septuagint for the first four ages 
of the world, together with the computation which the intelli- 
gent and learned men who followed them applied to the ages 
from the creation of the world till the birth of Christ, which 
they divided into five parts — namely, from Adam to the Deluge, 
2,242 years; from the Deluge to Abraham, 942 years; from 
Abraham to David, 940 years ; from David to the Captivity, 485 
years ; and from the Bondage to the Birth of Christ, 590 years. 
"The reason that we have followed the authorities who 
follow the Septuagint is, because they add the fifth age to their 
ages, and, by so doing, they fill up the period of 5,199 years, 
from the creation of Adam to the birth of Christ. Among the 
authors who follow the Septuagint, in the first four ages, are, 
Eusebius, who, in his chronicle, computes from the creation of 
Adam to the birth of Christ to be 5,199 years. Orosius, in 
the first chapter of his first book, says, that there are from 
Adam to Abraham 3,184 years ; from Abraham to the birth of 
Christ, 2,015 years, which make up the same number. These 
were two illustrious and wise Christian historians. Saint 
Jerome said also, in his Epistle to Titus, that 6,000 years of 
the world's age had not been then completed. Saint Augustine, 
in the tenth epistle of his twelfth book of the City of God, says, 
that the time from the creation of man to that time counts six 
thousand years. Both these are said to agree with the prece- 
ding authorities in the same enumeration of 5,199 years from 
Adam to the birth of Christ. Another authority for the same 
fact is the Roman Martyrology, which asserts that the full 

(«i) The custom of the compilers of the older Books of Invasions was always 
to commence with the Mosaic account of the creation. It is to this that 
O'Clery alludes, in explaining his departure from this ancient usage of his 


amount of the ages from the creation of the world to the birth lect. vm. 
of Christ was 5,199 years". The book o. 

The Preface ends here, and is followed by the certificates of 
the assistant compilers of the work, with the approbations, 
respectively, of Father Francis Mac Craith, Guardian of the 
Convent of Lisgoole, where the work was compiled (dated the 
22nd day of December, 1631), and of Carbry Mac ^gan, of 
Bally Mac -32gan, in the County of Tipperaiy (the 31st of 
August, 1631). 

The original of this valuable book is now in the collection of 
Lord Ashbumham, and there is a good copy of it in Trinity 
College Library [H. 1. 12.]. There is a fine paper copy of it 
in the Royal Irish Academy, made by Cucoigiy O'Clery, evi- 
dently for himself, but it wants the whole prefatory matter 
[No. 33. 4.1. This book is a small quarto of 245 pages, closely 
and beautiiully written, and equal to about 400 pages of O'Dono- 
van's Annab of the Four Masters. 

Of the ancient " Books of Invasions", mentioned by O'Clery 
as having been used in the compilation of this book, we know 
of none at present existing but Leabhar-na-h-Uidhrej which 
contains now but a small fragment of the Book of Invasions. 
There are, however, copies of the tract preserved in the Books 
of Leinster and Lecain, and a slightly imperfect copy in the 
Book of Ballymote. 

The other Irish works compiled or transcribed by Brotlier j^^ ^ther 
Michael O'Clery, and of the existence of which we are aware, JJjdmef' 
are the following, now in the Burgundian Library at Brussels : ociery. 

1. A volume of Lives of Irish Saints, compiled and written 
by him in the year 1628. 

2. Another large volume of the Lives of the Irish Saints, 
compiled and written in the year 1629. 

3. AvolumeofPoemsontneO'DonncllsofDonegall. [These 
three books I have never seen.]^"^ 

4. A volume containing many ancient and rare Irish Histo- 
rical Poems, together with the unportant Tract known as the 
Wars with the Danes. This volume was borrowed (with the libe- 
ral sanction of the Belgian Government), a few years ago, by the 
Rev. Dr. Todd, S.F.T.C.D., for whom I made a perfect copy of it. 

5. The Skeleton Martyrology of Donegall [wliich I have 

w*^ Since the delivery of this lecture, the Brehon Law Comniissionere borrowed 
these three books, in the summer of 1856 ; and I have read, and had several 
extracts made from them. 


LECT. vni. 

. The Perfect Martyrology of Donegall, full of important 
The other ^^^^ and additions. This volume was also borrowed by Dr. 
Works of Todd, and of this too I made for him a perfect copy, 
ociwy. 7. A large volume containing, firstly, a collection of very cu- 

rious and important ancient forms of prayer, and several religious 
poems. It contains also a good copy of the FMire, or Festolosy 
of Aengus Ceile Di (or the Culdee), as well as copies of me 
Martyrologies of Tamhlacht [Tallaght] and of Marianus Gorman. 
With the exception of the Festology or Martyrology of Aengus, 
no part of the contents of this most important book was to be 
found in Ireland, until this also was obtained for a short time 
from the Belgian Government by the same distinguished gentle- 
man, and I have made a copy of it for him. 

And here, while on the one hand I feel bound to express the 
strong and grateful sense every Irish archaeologist and nistorian 
must feel of the enlightened liberality thus exhibited by the 
Belgian Gtjvemment (affording so very marked a contrast to 
the conduct of the English public authorities in such cases^ as 
well as to that of Enghsh private owners of manuscript works 
of this kind), let me not omit to remark upon the example 
which Dr. Todd s conduct suggests to all Irishmen, and parti- 
cularly to those who are Catholics. For in this instance, as in- 
deed m others too in which Dr. Todd was concerned, you have 
an example of a Protestant gentleman, a clergjrman of the Pro- 
testant Church, and a Fellow of the Protestant University of 
Dublin, casting away from him all the unworthy prejudices of 
creed, caste, and position, with which, unfortunately, too many 
of his class are filled to overflowing, and, like a true scholar and 
a man of enlarged mind and understanding, endeavouring to 
recover for his native country as much of her long-lost and 
widely dispersed ancient literary remains as he can ; and this 
too, I may add, at an expense of time and money which few, if 
any, in these very utilitarian times, are found disposed to incur. 
To my excellent friend, Mr. Laurence Waldron, M.P., of 
Ballybrack, in the County of Dublin, is due the first discovery 
of the important collection of Irish MSS. at Brussels, about the 
year 1844. He was the first that examined (at my request) the 
Burgundian Library, and he brought me home tracings and de- 
scriptions of great accuracy and of deep interest. These tracings 
I placed in the hands of Dr. Todd, witli a request that he would 
take an opportunity to make a more minute examination of the 
MSS. Mr. Samuel Bindon, however, having heard of their 
existence, and having occasion to spend some time at Brussels 
in the year 1846, made an examination of them, and afterwards 
compiled a short catalogue of them, which he published on his 


return home, and which was read by the Rev. Dr. Todd before lect. vin. 
a meeting of the Royal Irish Academy on the 10th of May, 1847. ^^ ^^^ 

Dr. Todd himself, and the Rev. Dr. Graves, F.T.C.D., both ccieo^Mss. 
visited Brussels shortly afterwards, and each of them brought ^ ^®^^"°^ 
home yet more ample and accurate reports of those newly-dis- 
covered Kterary treasures. Still, however, no competent person 
has had time enough to make a detailed analysis of the collec- 
tion. May I hope mat it is reserved for the Catholic University 
to accomplish an object so desirable and so peculiarly congenial 
to a young institution which aims to be a truly national one ? 

To return from this digression. Besides the above important of Michael 
compilations of the learned and truly patriotic friar Michael cioj^^jj,^ 
O'CIery, he compiled in the Irish college in Louvain, and pub- 
lished m that city in the year 1643, a glossary of ancient and 
almost obsolete Irish words of great interest and value, not only 
at that period, but even still. And, as no description of mine 
could be as accurate or satisfactory as that of the author himself, 
I shall, as before, give you a literal translation of the title page, 
and the valuable prefatory address to the Bishop of Elphinn, 
who belonged himself, it appears, to the same Franciscan Order. 
The work is entitled : 

" A new Vocabulary or Glossary, in which are explained some 
part of the difficult words of the Gaedhlic, written in alphabe- 
tical order, by the poor rude friar Michael O'Clery , of the Order 
of Saint Francis, in the College of the Irish friars at Louvain, 
and printed by authority in the year 1643". [See original in 
AppEiroix No. LXXV.J 

The Dedication is as follows Tsee same App.] : — 

*' To my honoured lord and mend, Baothghalach [Latinized 
Boetius] Mac JEgan, Bishop of Ail/inn [Elphinn]. 

" Here is presented to you, my lord, a small gleaning of the 
hard words of our native tongue, collected out of many of the 
aacient books of our country, and explained according to the 
understanding and glosses of the chief authors of our country 
in the latter times, to whom the explanation of the ancient 
Graedhilg peculiarly belonged. 

" I know not in our country many to whom this gleaning 
should be first oflPered before yourself And it is not alone be- 
cause that our [conven tual] habit is the same (a reason which would 
otherwise be sufficient to point our attention to you above all 
others), that has moved us to make you the patron of this book, but 
along with that, and especially because of your own excellence, 
and the hereditary attachment of yoiu* family to this profession. 
And further that a man of your name and surname, Baothghalach 


LKCT. vm. Rijtadh [Boetlus the Red] Mac ^gan, is one of the chief autho- 

Of Michael ^^^ whom WO follow in the explanation of the words which 

o'Ciery'a are treated of in this book. 

**"*"**^'* " We have not, however, desired more than to give a little 

knowledge to those who are not well versed in their mother 

tonffue, and to excite the more learned to supply such another 

work as this, but on a better and larger scale . 

After this Dedication follows the Preface, or Address to the 
reader [Appendix, No. LXXVI.] : — 

" Let the reader who desires to read this little work, know 
four things : the first is, that we have not set down any word 
of explanation or gloss of the hard words of our mother tongue, 
but the words which we found with other persons, as explained 
by the most competent and learned masters in the knowledge 
of the diflGlcult words of the Graedhlic in our own days. Among 
these, more particularly, were Boetius Roe [Ruadh] Mac ^gan, 
Toma O'Mulconry, Lughaidh CClery^ and Maelseachlainn ^ the 
moody' O'Mulconry . And though each of these was an accom- 
plished adept, it is Boetius Roe that we have followed the most, 
because it was from him we ourselves received, and we have 
found written with others the explanations of the words of 
which we treat. And, besides, because he was an illustrious 
and accomplished scholar in this [the antiquarian] profession, 
as is manifest in the character which the other scholar before 
mentioned, Lxigliaidh O'Clery, gave of him after his death, as 
may be found in these verses : — 

" Athaimd, the father of learning, 

Dalian Forgailly the prime scholar, 

To compare with him in intelligence would be imjust. 

Nor NMi^ the profound in just laws. 

*' Obscure history, the laws of the ancients. 

The occult language of the poets ; 

He, in a word, to our knowledge, 

Had the power to explain and analyze, etc. 

" We have known able professors of this science, and even m 
the latter times, such as the late John O'Mulconry \o{ArdchoilU 
in the County of Clare], the chief teacher in history of those we 
have already named, and indeed of all the men of Erinn Uke- 
wise in his own time ; and Flann, the son of Cairbrey Mac 
^gan [of Lower Ormond in Tipperary] , who still lives ; and 
many more that we do not enumerate. But because we do not 
happen to have at this side of the sea, where we are in exile, 


the ancient books which they glossed, except a few, we could lbct. viii. 
not follow their explanation but to a small extent. of Michael 

" In the second place, be it known to you, O reader ! that ^iSiSJiL' 
the difficult ancient books, to which the ancient authors put 
glosses, and from which we have taken the following words, 
with the fiurther explanation of the parties mentioned above, 
who taught in these latter times, were : the Amhra^ [or Elegy] on 
the death of Saint Colum Cille ; the Agallamh, or Dialogue of 
the two Sages; the FelirS, or.Festology of the Saints; the Mar- 
tyrology of Marianus O'Gorman ; the Liber Hymnorum, or 
Book of Hymns; the Glossary of the (Tripartite) Life of Saint 
Patrick ; an ancient Scripture on vellum ; and a certain old paper 
book^ in which many hard words were found, with their expla- 
nations ; the glossary called Forus Focail (or, * The True Know- 
ledge of Words') ; and the other glossary, called Deirhshiur don 
Eagna an Eigsi (or, * Poetry is the Sister of Wisdom'). And, 
for the greater part of the liook from that out, we received the 
explanation from the before-mentioned Boetius. 

" Be it known to the reader, thirdly, that we have only de- 
sired, when proposing to write this httle work, to give but a 
little light to the young and the ignorant, and to stimulate and 
excite the professors and men of faiowledge to produce a work 
similar to tnis, but on a better and larger scale. And the reason 
why we have not followed at length many of the various mean- 
ings which poets and professors give to many of these words, is, 
because that it is to the professors themselves it more particu- 
larly belongs, and the people in general are not in as great need 
of It, as they are in need of assistance to read and understand 
the ancient books. 

" Fourthly. Be it known to the young people, and to the 
ignorant, who desire to read the old books (which is not 
difficult to be learned of our country), that diey [the old 
writers] seldom care to write * the slender with the broad, and 
the broad with the slender' [as required by an ancient ortho- 
graphical rule] ; and that they very rarely put the aspirate h 
upon the consonants, as in the cases of 6, c, d,/, etc., and also 
that they seldom put the long dash [or accent] over the words 
[or vowels]. Some of the consonants, too, are often written the 
one for the other, such as c for jr, and t for d. The following 
are a few specimens of words by which this will be understood : 
dog is the same as cloc; agad is the same as agat; beag is the 
same as beac; codlad is the same as cotlad; ard is the same as 
art, etc. Very often, too, ae is put for ao; ai for aoi; and oi 
for aoi. As an example of this : aedh is often written for aodh; 
and cael is the same as caoU and baoi and boi are the same as 



i^ECT. vin. bai. E is often written for a in the old books, such as A>, 
which is the same as Jta, and da the same as ct«". 

This valuable preface closes with a few examples of con- 
tractions, which are intelligible only to the eye [see Appendix, 

These are all the works I know of by Michael O'Clery. 

Of the writings of ConairS O'Clery, brother of Fathers Ber- 

of the nardine and Michael, and who transcribed the chief part of the 

cJnair? and fair copy of the Annals of the Four Masters now in the Royal 

o^ci^*^ Ush Academy, I have not been so fortunate as to discover any 

trace beyond nis part in that work. 

In the beautiful handwriting of- CueoigcrichS (Cncoigry or 
Peregrine) O'Clery, we have, besides his part of tne Annals of 
the Four Masters, a few specimens preserved in the library of 
the Royal Irish Academy. We have : — 

1. A copy (evidently made for his own use) of the Leabhar 
Gaihdlaj or Book of Conquests, already mentioned. 

2. A copy of the topographical poems of O'Dugan and 
OHuidhHn^ together witn some other ancient historical poems. 

3. A book of the genealogies and pedigrees of the great Irish 
races, as also of the Geraldines, Butlers, etc. 

In the volume in which these pieces are preserved, the last 
article is the Last Will and Testament of Cucoigry O'Clery 
himself, written in Gaedhlic, in his usual beautiful hand, on a 
small quarto page of paper, and dated at Cmrr-na-Heillti, in 
the county ot Mayo, the 8th of February, 1664, which must 
have been, I should think, some five or six years before his death. 

The wiU begins in the usual way: "In the name of the 
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" ; and after or- 
dering that his body should be buried in the Monastery of 
Buirgheia Umhaill, or in whatever other consecrated church his 
friends might choose, he proceeds to bequeath the property 
most dear to him of all that he had acquired in this world, 
namely, his books, to his two sons, Dermait and John, to be 
used by them as their necessities should require. And he di- 
rected that the books should be equally at the service of the 
children of his brother CairbrS, with a charge that his sons and 
his nephews should instruct their children m the acquaintance 
and use of these books. [See the original of this will in the 
Appendix, No. LXXVni.] 

He appears to have had very little property besides to leave 
his sons, and they do not seem to have much increased it. The 
last recognized member of his descendants, the late John O'Clery, 
died quite a young man in Dublin about four years ago. This 


John was the son of John O'Clery, who was many years gate- lect. vm. 
clerk at the gas works in Great Brunswick Street in this city. ^ ^^ 
To him the books that we have been speaking of did actually writings of 
come down by lawful descent ;' and, having brought them to o^'Jy?^ 
Dublin about the year 1817, they subsequently passed from 
his hands into those of the late Edward O'Reilly, at the sale of 
whose books they were fortunately purchased for the Library 
of the Royal Irisn Academy by Dr. Petrie. 

With his other literary accomplishments, hereditary and ac- 
quired, Cucoigry O'Clery appears to have been no mean adept 
in the poetic art of his country. I have in my own possession 
two poems written by him a short time before lus death for some 
members of the great house of his ancient patrons, the O'Donnells 
of DonegalL [See original in Appendix No. LXXIX.] 

The &st of these is a poem of forty quatrains, addressed to 
Torloch, the son of Cathbharr [pron: " Caffar"] O'DonnelL It 
is a philosophical and religious address on the vanities and the 
fleetmg dignities and interests of the world. He condoles with 
O'Donnellupon the fallen fortunes of his house, and the dispersion 
of his family and people. He compliments him as having, after 
the plantation of Ulster, collected about him a body of his own 
people, and having visited at their head (during the Cromwellian 
wars) all parts of Ireland, gaining honour and emolument with 
them wherever they went, during the space of fourteen years ; 
and that then only he permitted them, when all hope of success 
was past, to submit themselves to the English law, and so dis- 
banoed them j^t Port-Erne, on the borders of their own ancient 
territory. He exhorts the aged chieftain and warrior, that as he 
had been granted such a long life (being, at this time, over 
seventy years of age), he should now dismiss from his mind 
ambitious aspirations, and should rather turn it to devotion and 
to penance tor his sins. He says, that he himself will be the 
first of the two to be called befere the Heavenly throne, and 
that this is his last literary effort and gift bestowed upon him at 
the close of his life. 

The second poem is a poem of thirty-four quatrains, in 
answer to one addressed to him by Calbhach Ruadh [Roe] 
O'Donnell. O'Donnell's poem appears to have contained a 
request to O'Clery to take up the history and genealogies of 
the Tirconnell race, as he was bound to do, he being the last 
of their hereditary SeaiicliaidliS. O'Donnell complains, too, of 
his having been driven by the foreigners out of Mayo, where 
his family had taken refuge, and forced to seek for a new home 
in the neighbourhood of Cruachain^ in the County Roscommon. 
In O'Clery's poem the poet recommends his young friend 

12 B 


LECT. viir. O'Donnell to the attention of his own learned tutors, the OTSf ul- 
of the conrys and the O'Higginses of the county Roscommon, who 
o'cierya. ^nU, he assuTcs him, extend to him the literary homage due to 
his own worth and to the well earned fame of his family. 

Whatever may be the poetical value of these pieces of Cuco- 
ffry O'Clery, they certainly are not wanting in a clear apprecia- 
tion of the shiftmg of the scenes in this uncertain world, and 
the firmest religious conviction of the interference of an All- 
guiding hand in their direction. As specimens of the writing 
of one of our last literary scholars, they cannot fail to be in- 

I have now closed what I had prepared to say to you about the 
O'Clerys. If any apology were necessary for my naving dwelt 
60 long upon their labours and themselves, remember that I 
have done so on the ground of theirs being the last and greatest 
school of Irish historians, and not on account of the peculiar 
authority which, of itself, every record and assertion of such 
careful and critical scholars has ever sinc^ been held to bearj 
and must ever continue to bear with it. 


CDeUverad JvJij 10, I8S6.] 

Of the chief existing Ancient Books. The Leabhar na h- Uidhrl The '* Book 
of Lemster''. The ''Book of BaUymote". The MS. commonly called 
the Leabhar Sreac. The "Yellow Book of X«cfl«n". The "Book of Z«cam^ 
Of the other Books and ancient MSS. in the Libraries of Trinity College, 
Dublin ; the Hoyal Irish Academy ; and elsewhere. Tlie ^ Book of las- 
more**. The MSS. called the Brehon Law MSS. 

We have now disposed of the chief national Annals, and we 
have noticed the other historical works of the last and greatest 
of the annalists. But, though in some respects, undoubtedly, 
the most important, the compositions we have been considering 
form, after all, but a small portion of the immense mass of mate- 
rials which exist in Irish manuscripts for the elucidation of our 

In the course of the present series of Lectures, it will be my 
duty to describe to you, — not indeed in the same detail with 
which I have thought it right to deal with the annalists, but so • 
as to make you understand, generally at least, their nature, 
value, and extent, — the vast collections of Historic Tracts 
which our great MS. libraries fortunately possess ; and I 
shall also have to bring under your notice some of the more 
important of those pieces which have come down to us in the 
form of systematic historical compositions, such as the "Wars of 
the Danes*', the "Boromean Tribute", etc. 

But, before I do this, I desire to complete, in the first place, 
that part of my design, in this preparatory course, which con- 
sists of laying before you, at one view, the larger features of our 
existing stock of materials for the elucidation of early Irish 
history. Accordingly, it is my intention, before passing to the 
consideration of the mteresting pieces which record for us the 
special details of local and personal history, to present to you 
the outlines of the nature and contents of the great books them- 
selves in which not oi^all these Tracts are preserved,but also the 
immense number of (Genealogies in which the names and tribes 
of our people are recorded from the earliest a^es ; books, many 
of which are themselves the sources from wmch the O'Clerys, 
and other annalists before them, drew all their knowledge. 

Fortunately, of these great books we have, as in the first 



Lecture you have been ehortly mformed, many still remaining 
Of the old *^ ^^» ^ perfect preservation. And there is not one of you to 
Mss. auu whom the originals themselves, notwithstanding the wear and 
existing. ^^ ^^ centuries, may not easily become intelligible — so beau- 
tifully was the scribe s work performed in early days in Ireland 
— whenever you shall be disposed to devote but half the time 
to the study of the noble old lan^age of Erinn, which you 
devote to that of the great classic tongues of other ancient 
people. A visit to the Library of the Royal Lish Academy, 
or of Trinity College, will, however, little serve to make you 
aware of the vast extent of the treasures which lie in the dark- 
written musty-looking old books you are shown there as curi- 
osities, unless you shall provide yourselves with the key which 
some acquaintance with their characters and language alone will 
afford. In the short account, therefore, which I am about to 
lay before you, of the great vellum books and MSS. in Dublin, 
I shall add, in every case, some approximate calculation of their 
length, by reference to the number of pages each book would 
fill, if printed (the Irish text alone) in large quarto volumes, 
such as those of O'Donovan's Annals of the Four Masters. And 
when you have heard of what matter the contents of these books 
consist, and reflect upon the length to which, if printed in foil, 
they would extend, I think you will agree with me that all that 
I have said upon the value of our MS. treasures will, on better 
acquaintance with them, be found to fall far short of the reality. 

The Lea- The first of thesc ancient books that merits notice, because it 

H^ufDais. ^^ ^^^ oldest, is that which is known by the name of Leabhab 
NA H-UiDHRE, or the Book of the Dun Cow, to which I have 
abeady shortly alluded in a former lecture. Of this book, so 
often referred to in Michael O'Clery's Prefaces, we have now, un- 
fortunately, but afragment remaining — afragment which consists, 
however, of 138 folio pages, and is written on very old vellum. 

The name and penod of writing the book of which it is a 
fragment, might, perhaps, be now lost for ever, if the curious 
history of the hook itself had not led to, and in some degree in- 
deed necessitated, their preservation. All that we know about 
it is found in two entries, written at different periods, in a blank 
part of the second column of the first page of folio 35. Of the 
first of these curious entries, the following is a literal translation 
[See original in Appendix, No. LXXX7] : — 

" Pray for Maelmuiri^ the son of Ceilechair, that is, the son of 
the son of Conn-na-m-Bocht^ who wrote and collected this book 
from various books. Pray for Donnell, the son of Murtoch, son 
of Donnell, «on of Tadhg [or Teig], son of Brian, son of An- 


dreas, son of Brian Luighneach, son of Turloch Mor [or the lect. ix. 
Great] O'Conor. It was this Donnell that directed the renewal 
of the name of the person who wrote this beautiful book, by bhL ka' 
Sigraidh O'Cuimin; and is it not as well for us to leave our "■^'"****^ 
blessing with the owner of this book, as to send it to him by the 
mouth of any other person ? And it is a week from this day to 
Easter Saturday, and a week from yesterday to the Friday of 
the Crucifixion ; and [there will be] two Golden Fridays on 
that Friday, that is, the Friday of tne festival of the Blessed 
Virgin Mary and the Friday of the Crucifixion, and this is 
greatly wondered at by some learned persons". 

The following is the translation of the second entry, — same 
page and column [see same App.] : — 

" A prayer here for Aedh Ruadh [Hugh the Red-habed], the 
son of Niall Garbh 0*Donnell, who lorcibly recovered this 
book from the people of Connacht, and the Leabhar Gearr [or 
Short Book] along with it, after they had been away from us 
from the time of Cathal 6g O'Conor to the time of Rory son of 
Brian [O'Conor] ; and ten lords ruled over Carbury [or Sligo] 
between them. And it was in the time of Conor, the son of 
Hugh O'Donnell, that they were taken to the west, and this is 
the way in which they were so taken: The Short Book, in 
ransom for O'Doherty, and Leabhar na h-Uidhre [that is, the 
present book] in ransom of the son of O'DonnelFs chief family 
historian, who was captured by Cathal, and carried away as a 
pledge ; and thus they [the books^ were away from the Cenel 
Conaill [or O'Donnells] from the time of Conor [O'Donnell] to 
theTpresent] time of Hugh". 

There is some mistake in this last memorandum. Conor, the 
son of Hugh O'Donnell, in whose time the books are stated here 
to have been carried into Connaught, was slain by his brother 
Niall in the year 1342, according to the Annals of the Four 
Masters; and the capture of John O'Doherty by Cathal 6g 
O'Conor, at the battle of Ballyshannon, took place in the year 
1359. The proper reading would, therefore, seem to be, that 
Leabhar na h-Uidhri passed into Connacht first, before Conor 
O'Donnell's death in 1342, and that the Leabhar Gearr, or 
Short Book, was given in ransom for O'Doherty in 1359 ; Conor 
O'Donnell's reign covering both periods, as the writer does not 
seem to recognize the reign of the fratricide Niall. 

The following passage from the Annals of the Four Masters 
will make this last entry more intelligible, and show that it was 
made in Donegall in the year 1470 [see original in Appendix, 
No. LXXXI.] :— 

" A.D. 1470. The Castle of Sligo was taken, after a long 


LECT. IX. sieffe, by O'Donnell, that is, Hugh the Red-haired, from Don- 

.j^j^^^ neli, the son of Eo^han O'Conor. On this occasion he obtained 

BHAH VA all diat he demanded by way of reparation, besides receiving 

H-uiDHRK. tokens of submission ana tribute from Lower Connacht. It was 

on this occasion too that he recovered the book called Leabhar 

Gearr [or the Short Book], and another, Leabhar na hr UidhrSj 

as well as the churs of Donnell og [O'Donnell], which had been 

carried thither in the time of John, the son of Conor, son of 

Hugh, son of Donnell 6g O'Donnell'*. 

In reference to the first entry, it must have been made while 
tlie book was in Connacht, and by Sigraidh OCuimin^ who 
was, according to the Aimals of the Four Masters, a learned 
poet of Briefhey, and died in the year 1347 ; and he must have 
made the entry in the year 1345, as that was the only year at 
this particular period m which Good Friday happened to fall 
on the festival of the Annunciation, or the 25th ot March. This 
fact is further borne out by an entry in the Annals of the Four 
Masters, which records that Conor O'Donnell, chief of Tircon- 
nell, died in the year 1342, after a reign of nine years ; and we 
have seen from the entry, ^at it was m his time that this book 
must have been carried into Connacht. According to the same 
Annals, Donnell, the son of Murtach O'Conor, died in the 
year 1437, by whose direction OCuimin renewed the name of 
the original writer, — which, even at this early period, seems to 
have disappeared, several leaves of the book, ana amongst others 
that which contained this entry, having even then been lost. 

Of the original compiler and writer of the Leabhar na 
h' Uidhri, I have been able to learn notlung more than the fol- 
lowing brief and melancholy notice of his death in the Annals 
of the Four Masters, at the year 1106 [see original in Appendix, 
No. LXXXII.]:— 

" Maelmuiri, son of the son of Conn na m-Bocht, was killed 
in the middle of the great stone church of Cluainmacnois, by a 
party of robbers". 

A memorandum, in the original hand, at the top of folio 45, 
clearly identifies the writer of the book with the person whose 
death is recorded in the passage just quoted from the Annals ; 
it is PM^tljr in Latin and partly in Gaedhlic, as follows: — 

" This is a trial of his pen here, by Maelmuiri, son of the 
son of Conn" [see oririnal m Appendix, No. LXXXIII.] 

This Conn na mSochty or " Conn of the Poor", as he was 
called from his devotion to their relief and care, was a lay reli- 
gious of Clonmacnois, and the father and foimder of a distin- 
guished family of scholars, lay and ecclesiastical. He appears 
to have been the founder and superior of a community of poor 


lajr monks, of the Ceile Di (or "Culdee") order, in connexion lect. ix. 
with that great establishment; and he died in the year 1059. tji^le^. 

The contents of the MS., as they stand now, are of a mixed bhar ka 
character, historical and romantic, andrelate to the ante-Christian, ^' 
as well as the Christian period. The book begins with a fragment 
of the Book of Genesis, part of which was always prefixed to 
the Book of Invasions (or ancient Colonizations) of Erinn, for 
genealogical purposes; (and th< f*' is good reason to believe, 
diat a full tract on this subject was contained in the book so 
late as the year 1631, as Father Michael O'Clery quotes it in 
his new compilation of the Book of Invasions made in that 
year for Brian MacGuire). 

This is followed by a fragment of the history of the Britons, 
by Nennius, translated into Gaedhlic by Gilla Caomhain, the 
poet and chronologist, who died a.d. 1072. (This tract was 
published by the Irish Archaeological Society in 1848.) 

The next important piece is the very ancient elegy, written 
by the poet Dalian Forgaill, on the death of Saint Colum Cille, 
in the year 592. It is remarkable that even at the early period 
of the compilation of the Leabhar na h- UidhrS, this celebrated 
poem should have required a gloss to make it intelligible. The 
gloss, which is as usual interlined, is not very copious, but it is 
most important, both in a philological and nistorical point of 
view, because of the many more ancient compositions quoted in 
it for the explanation of words ; which compositions, therefore, 
must then have been still in existence. 

The elegy is followed by fragments of the ancient historic 
tale of the Mesca Uladk, [or Inebriety of the Ultonians,] who, 
in a fit of excitement, after a great feast at the royal palace of 
Emania, made a sudden and furious march into Munster, where 
they burned the palace of Teamhair Jbaachray in Kerry, then 
the residence of Curoi Mac Dairi^ king of West Munster. 
This tract abounds in curious notices of topography, as well as 
in allusions to and descriptions of social haoits and manners. 

Next come fragments of Tain B6 Dartadha, and the Tain 
BdFlidaia ; both Cattle Spoils, arising out of the celebrated Cattle 
Spoil of Cuail^nS, Next comes the story of the wanderings of 
Maelduin's ship in the Atlantic, for three years and seven 
months, in the eighth century- These are followed by imper- 
fect copies of: the Tain Bd ChuailgnS, or great cattle spoil of 
CuailgnS; the Bruighean Da Dearga^ and death of the monarch 
Conaire Mor; a history of the great pagan cemeteries of 
Erinn, and of the various old books from which this and other 
pieces were compiled; poems by Flann of Monastcrboice and 
others ; together with various other pieces of histoiy and his- 


LECT. IX. toric romance, chiefly referring to the ante-Christian period, and 
especially that of the Tuaiha Vi Danann, This most valuable 
MS. belongs to the Royal Irish Academy. If printed at length, 
the text of it would make about 500 pages of the Annals of the 
Four Masters. 

The Book of The ncxt ancient book which I shall treat of is that at 
LEIK8TER. pregeut kuowH undcr the name of the Book of Leinsteb. 
It can be shown, from various internal evidences, that this 
volume was either compiled or transcribed in the first half of 
the twelfth century, by Finn Mac Gorman, Bishop of Kildare, 
who died in the year 1160 ; and that it was compiled by order 
of Aodh Mac Crimhthainn^ the tutor of the notorious Dermod 
Mac Murroch — ^that king of Leinster who first invited Earl 
Strongbow and the Anglo-Normans into Ireland, in the year 
1169. The book was evidently compiled for Dermod, under 
the superintendence of his tutor, by Mac Gorman, who had prob- 
ably been a fellow-pupil of the king. In support of this asser- 
tion, I need only transcribe the following entry, which occurs, 
in the original hand, at the end of foUo 202, page b. of the book 
[see original in Appendix, No. LXXXIV.J: — 

" Benediction and health from Finn, the Bishop of Kildare, 
to Aedh [Hugh] Mac CrimhthainUj the tutor of the chief king of 
Leth Moglia Nuadat [or of Leinster and Munster], successor of 
Colum, the son of Crimhthann^ and chief historian of Leinster 
in wisdom, intelligence, and the cultivation of books, know- 
ledge, and learning. And I write the conclusion of this little 
tale for thee, O acute A edh ! [Hugh] thou possessor of the spark- 
ling intellect. May it be long before we are without thee. It is 
my desire that thou shouli&t be always with us. Let Mac 
Lonan's book of poems be given to me, that I may understand 
tlie sense of the poems that are in it; and farewell in Christ''; 

This note must be received as suiSBcient evidence to bring the 
date of this valuable manuscript within the period of a man's 
life, whose death, as a Catholic bishop, happened in the year 
1160, and who was, I believe, consecrated to the ancient see of 
Kildare in the year 1148, long before which period, of course, 
he must have been employed to write out this book. Of the 
Aedh Mac Crimhthainn for whom he wrote it, I have not been 
able to ascertain anything more than what appears above ; but 
he must have flourished early in the twelfth century to be the 
tutor of Dermod Mac Murroch, who, in concert with O'Brien, 
had led the men of Leinster against the Danes of Waterford, 
so far back as the year 1137. 


That this book belonged either to Dermod Mac Murroch lect. ix. 
himself, or to some person who had him warmly at heart, will ^ ^ 
appear plainly from the following memorandum, which is lewstkb. "* 
written m a strange but ancient hand, in the top margin of 
folio 200, page a. [see original in Appendix, No. LXXXV.] : — 

" O Virgin Mary ! it is a great deed that has been done in 
Erinn this day, the kalends of August — viz., Dermod, the son 
of Donnoch Mac Murroch, king of Leinster, and of the Danes 
[of Dublin], to have been bamshed over the sea eastwards by 
the men of Erinn. Uch, uch, O Lord ! what shall I do ?" 

The book consists, at present, of over four hundred pages of 
large folio vellum ; but there are many leaves of the old pagin- 
ation missing. 

To give anything like a satisfactory analysis of this book, 
would take at least one whole lecture. I cannot, therefore, 
within my present limited space do more than glance at its 
general character, and point, by name only, to a few of the 
many important pieces preservea in it. 

It begins as usual with a Book of Invasions of Erinn, but 
without the Book of Genesis ; after which the succession of the 
monarchs to the year 1169 ; and the succession and obituary of 
the provincial and other minor kings, etc. Then follow speci- 
mens of ancient versification, — ^poems on Tara, and an ancient 
{Ian and explanation of the Teach Midhchuarta, or Banqueting 
lall of that ancient royal city. (Tliese poems and plan have 
been published by Dr. Petne, in his paper on the history of 
Tara, printed in the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 
for 1839, vol. xviii.) After these come poems on the wars of the 
Leinstermen, the Ulstermen, and the Munstermen, in great 
numbers, many of them of the highest historic interest and 
value ; and gome prose pieces and small poems on Leinster, of 
great antiquity — some of them, as I believe, certainly written 
by Dubhthach, the great antiquarian and poet, who was Saint 
Patrick's first convert at Tara. After these a fine copy of the 
history of the celebrated Battle of Ross na Righ^ on the Boyne, 
fought between the men of Leinster and Ulster at the begin- 
ning of the Christian era. A copy of the Mesca Uladh, or In- 
ebriety of the Ultonians, imperfect at the end, but which can be 
made perfect by the fi-agment of it already mentioned in Leab- 
har na h-UidhrS. A fine copy of the Origin of the Boromean 
Tribute, and the battles that ensued down to its remission. A 
fragment of the ** Battle of Cennabraf^ in Munster, with the de- 
feat of Mac Con by Oilioll Oluim, Mac Con's flight into Scotland, 
his return afterwards with a large force of Scottish and British 


LBCT. n. adventurers, his landing in the bay of Galway, and the ensuing 
The Book op ^^^^^ ^^ Mogh Mucruimhd, fought between nim and his mater- 
LBursTiB. nal uncle, Ait, the monarch of Erinn, in which battle the latter 
was defeated and killed, as well as the seven sons of Oilioll 
Oluim, A variety of curious and important short tracts re- 
lating to Mimster, are also to be found in the Book of Leinster, 
besides this last one, up to the middle of the eighth century. 
This volume likewise contains a small firamnent of Cormac*8 
Glossary, copied, perhaps with many more of these pieces, from 
the veritable Saltair of Cashel itself; also, a fragment, unfor- 
tunately a very small one, (the first folio only), of the Wars of 
the Danes and the Gaedhils (t. e. the Irish) ; a copy of the 
DinnsenckuSj a celebrated ancient topographical tract, which 
was compiled at Tara about the year 560; several ancient 
poems on universal geoOTaphy , chronology, history, and soforth ; 
pedigrees and genealogies ot the great Milesian tribes and fami- 
lies, particularly those of Leinster; and lastly, an ample list 
of the early saints of Erinn, with tiieir pedigrees and affinities, 
and with copious references to the situations of their churches. 
This is but an imperfect sketch of this invaluable MS., and 
I think I may say with sorrow, that there is not in all Europe 
any nation but tms of ours that would not long since have made 
a national literary fortune out of such a volume, had any other 
country in Europe been fortunate enough to possess such an 
heir-loom of history. 

The volume forms, at jjresent, part of the rich store of ancient 
Irish literature preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dub- 
lin ; and if printed at length, the Gaedhlic text of it would make 
2000 pages of the Annals of the Four Masters. 

V^^r^lS^ The next book in order of antiquity, of which I shall treat, 
IS the well known Book of Ballymote. 

This noble volume, though defective in a few places, still con- 
sists of 251 leaves, or 502 pages of the largest folio vellum, 
equal to about 2500 pages of the printed Annals of the Four 

It was written by different persons, but chiefly by Solomon 
O'Droma and Manus O'Duigenann ; and we find it stated at 
folio 62.b., that it was written at Ballymote (in the county of 
SligoJ in the house of Tomaltach 6g Mac Donogh, Lord of Co- 
rann in that county, at the time that Torlogh 6g^ the son of 
Hugh O'Conor, was king of Connacht; and Charles O'Conor 
of Belanagar has written in it the date 1391, as the precise 

(rear in which this part of the book was written. This book, 
ike all our old books still existing, is but a compilation collected 


from various sources, and must, like ttem, be held to represent lect. ix. 
to a great extent several older compilations. __ ..^ 

T 1 ' • ^ • n /»! • T-TT ^® Book of 

It begins with an impertect copy ot the ancient Jueabhar balltmoh. 
Gabhdla^ or Book of Invasions of Erinn, differing in a few de- 
tails from other copies of the same tract. This is followed by 
a series of ancient chronological, historical, and genealogical 
pieces in prose and verse. Then follow the pedigrees of Irish 
saints; the history and pedigrees of all the great families of the 
Milesian race, with the various minor tribes and families which 
have branched off from them in the succession of ages ; so that 
there scarcely exists an O' or a Mac at the present day who 
may not find in this book the name of the particular remote 
ancestor whose name he bears as a surname, as weU as the time 
at which he lived, what he was, and from what more ancient line 
he again was descended. These genealogies may appear unim- 
portant to ordinary readers ; but those who have essayed to illus- 
trate any branch of the ancient history of this country, and who 
could have availed themselves of them, have found in them the 
most authentic, accurate, and important auxiliaries : in fact, a 
history which has remained so long unwritten as that of ancient 
Erinn, could never be satisfactorily compiled at all without them. 
Of these genealogies I shall have more to say in a subsequent 
lecture. [See post, Lect. X.] 

These family histories are followed, in the Book of Ballymote, 
by some accounts of Conor Mac Nessa, king of Ulster ; of 
Aithimi the Satirist ; the tragical death of the beautiful lady 
Luaidet; the story of the adventures of the monarch Cormac 
Mac Art in fairy-land ; some curious and valuable sketches of the 
death of the monarch Crimhthann Mor; a tract on the accession 
of Niall of the Nine Hostages to the monarchy, his wars, and the 
death of his brother Fiachra, at Forraidh (in the present coimty 
of Westmeath), on his return, mortally woimded, from the battle 
of Caenraiahe (Kenry, in the present county of Limerick). 

Some of these pieces are, doubtless, mixed up with mytholo- 
gical fable ; but as the main facts, as well as all the actors, are 
real, and as to these mythological fables may be traced up many 
of liie characteristic popular customs and superstitions still re- 
msdning among us, these pieces must be looked upon as materials 
of no ordinary value by the historical and antiquarian investi- 
gator. After these follow tracts, in prose and verse, on the 
names, parentage, and husbands of the most remarkable women 
in Irish history, down to the twefth century ; a tract on the 
mothers of the Irish saints ; a tract on the origin of the names 
and surnames of the most remarkable men in ancient Irish his- 
tory ; and an ancient law tract on the rights, privileges, rewards, 


LECT. IX. and soforth, of the learned classes, such as the ecclesiastical or- 
Th Boo yders, the orders ofpoets, teachers, judges, etc. After this we have 
balltmotb. the ancient translation into the Graedhlic of the history of the 
Britons by Nennius, before alluded to as having been published 
a few years ago by the Irish ArchsBological Society ; an ancient 
Grammar and Prosody, richly illustrated with specimens of an- 
cient Irish versification ; a tract on the Ogham alphabets of the 
ancient Irish, with illustrations (about to be publisned shortly by 
the Archaeological Society, edited by my respected friend, the 
Rev. Dr. Graves, F.T.C.D.) ; the book of reciprocal rights and 
tributes of the monarch and provincial kings, and some minor 
chiefs of ancient Ireland (a most important document, published 
for the first time in 1847, by the Celtic Society) ; a tract on the 
ancient history, chiefs, and chieftaincies of CorcaLaoi^ or O'Dris- 
coll's country, in the county of Cork (published also by the 
Celtic Society, in their Miscellany for 1849) ; a copy of the 
/ IHnnsenchus, or great topographical tract ; and a translation or 
account in ancient Gaedhlio, with a critical collation of various 
texts, of the Argonautic expedition and the Trojan war. 

The book endg with the adventures of Mneas after the des- 
truction of Troy. 

The Gaedhhc text of this great book, which belongs to the 
Library of the Royal Irish Academy, would make about 2500 
pages of the Annals of the Four Masters. 

The MS. As I have, in a former lecture, given a free analvsis of the 

thei^ABRAB MS. commonly called the Leabhab Breac, or Speckled Book, 

*"^*'* an ancient vellum MS. preserved in the same hbrary, I have 

only to add here that the Gaedhlic text of that mo3t important 

volume would make above 2000 pages of the Annals of the 

Four Masters. 

S^/op*"^^ The next great book which merits our attention is that which 
LECAiif. has been lately discovered to be, in great part, the Leabhar 
Buidlii Lecain, or Yellow Book of Lecain, one of the ponde- 
rous compilations of the truly learned and industrious family of 
the Mac Firbises of that ancient seat of learning. It is preserved 
in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, where it is classed 
H. 2.16. 

This volume, notwithstanding many losses, consists of about 
500 pages of large quarto vellum, equal to about 2000 pages of 
G^eohhc text, printed like O'Donovan's Annals of the Four 
Masters ; and, with the exception of a few small tracts in other 
and somewhat later hands, it is all finely written by Donnoch 
and Gilla ha Mac Firbis, in the year 1390. 


The Yellow Book of Lecain, in its original form, would ap- lect. ix. 
pear to have been a collection of ancient historical pieces, civil ^^ tellow 
and ecclesiastical, in prose and verse. In its present condition, book of 
it begins with a collection of family and political poems, relating ^^' 
chiefly to the families of O'Kelly and O'Conor of Connacht, 
and the O'Donnells of Donegall. This tract made no part of 
the original book. These pieces are followed by some mo- 
nastic rules in verse, and some poems on ancient Tara, with 
another fine copy of the plan and explanation of its Teach 
Midhchuarta^ or Banqueting Hall; the same which has been 
published by Dr. Petrie in his Essay on the History and 
Antiquities of Tara. After this an account of the creation, 
with the formation and fall of man, translated evidently from 
the Book of Genesis. This biblical piece is followed by the 
Feast of Dun na n-Gedh and the battle of Magh Rath (two 
important tracts published from this copy by the Irish Archaeo- 
logical Society^; then a most curious and valuable account, 
though a little tmged with fable, of the reign and death of Muir- 
ehertach Mae Erca^ monarch of Ireland, at the palace of Cldtechy 
on the banks of the River Boyne, in the year of our Lord 527 ; 
an imperfect copy of the Tdin Bo ChuailgnS^ or great Cattle 
Spoil of Cuailgn^, in Louth, with several of the minor cattle 
spoils that grew out of it ; after which is a fine copy of the 
Bruighean Da Dearga^ and death of the monarch Conaire Mor; 
the tale of the wanderings of Maelduiris ship (for more than 
three years) in the Atlantic; some most interesting^ tracts con- 
cerning the banishment of an ancient tribe from East Meath, 
and an account of the wanderings of some Irish ecclesiastics in 
the Northern Ocean, where they found the exiles ; an abstract 
of the battle of Dxmbolg, in Wicklow, where the monarch, Aedh 
Mae Ainmire, was slain, in the year 594; the battle o£ Magh 
Rath (in the present county of Down), in which Congal Claen, 
prince of Ulidia, was slain, in the year 634 (published by the 
Irish Archaeological Society) ; and the battle of Almhain (now 
Allen, in the present County of Kildare), where the monarch 
Ferghal was killed, in the year 718. A variety of curious pieces 
follow, relating to Conor Mac Nessa ; Curoi Mac DairS (pron. 
nearly " Cooree Mac Darry") ; Labhraidh Loingseach (" Lovra 
Lingsha"), king of Leinster ; Niall of the Nine Hostages, and his 
poet Toma; together with many other valuable tracts and 
scraps, which I can do no more than allude to at present ; and 
the volume ends with a fine copy (imperfect at the beginning) 
of the law tract I have already mentioned, when speaking of 
the Book of Ballymote. This volume would make about 2000 
pages of the Annals of the Four Masters. 


LBCT. IX. The next of these great books to which I would desire your at- 
The Book v tcntlon, is the volume so well known as the Book of Lec ain. This 
lbcadc. book was compiled in the year 1416, by Gilla Isa Mor Mac 
Firbis oiLecain Mic Fhirhisighy in the county of Sligo, one of the 
great school of teachers of that celebrated locality, and the direct 
ancestor of the learned DttWiaZtocA [or Duald] Mac Firbis, already 
mentioned. This book, which Belongs to the library of the 
Royal Irish Academy, contains over 600 pt^es, equal to 2400 
pa^es of the Gaedhhc text of the Annals ofthe Four Masters. 
It IS beautifully and accurately written on vellum of small folio 
size, chiefly in the hand of Gilla Isa Mac Firbis, though there 
are some small parts of it written, respectively, in the hands of 
Adam O'Cuimin (the historian of Breifnij or Briefney) and 
Morogh Riabhac O'CuindlisS^ 

The first nine folios of the Book of Lecain were lost, imtil 
discovered by me a few years ago bound \xp in a volume of the 
Seabright Collection, in the library of Trinity College. 

The Book of Lecain differs but little, in its arrangement and 
general contents, from the Book of Ballymote. It contains two 
copies of the Book of Invasions, an imperfect one at the begin- 
ning, but a perfect one, with the Succession of the Kings, 
and the tract on the Boromean Tribute, at the end. It contains 
fine copies of the ancient historical, synchronolo^cal, chronolo- 
gical, and genealogical poems already spoken of as comprised in 
the Book of Ballymote, as well as some that are not contained 
in that volume. These are followed by the family history and 
genealogies of the Milesians, with considerable and important 
additions to those found in the Book of Ballymote. Among 
the additions is a very valuable tract, in prose and verse, by 
Mac Firbis himself, on the families and subdivisions of the ter- 
ritory of Tir-Fiachrach, in the present coimty of Sligo ; a tract 
which has been published by the Irish Archaeological Society 
under the title of " The Tribes and Customs of Hy-Fiachrach . 

Ofthe chief Thc Other ancient vellum books of importance, preserved in 
toTc.D^^^' the library of Trinity College, Dublin, may be described as 
follows : — 

1. A folio volume of ancient laws, of 120 pages, on vellimi, 
written about the year 1400 (classed E. 3. 5.) This forms part 
of the collection shortly to be published by the Brehon Law 
Commission, and would make about 400 pages of the Annals of 
the Four Masters. 

(48)^Aiid here I may perhaps be permitted to observe, that I beliere the 
families of Forbes and Candlish in Scotland, are the same as, and indeed 
directly descended from, those of Mac Furbis and O'Cuindlis in Ireland. 


2. A small folio volume, of 430 pages, on vellum (classed H. lect. ix. 
2. 7), consisting cMefly of Irish pedigrees; together with some ^^^^ ^^^^ 
historical poems on the O'Kellys and O'Maddens, and some Tciium mss. 
firamnents of ancient historic tracts of great value, the titles of ^^•^^' 
which, however, are missing. It contains also some translations 

from ancient Anglo-Saxon writers of romance, and a fragment 
of an ancient translation of Ginddus Cambrensis* History of 
the Conquest of Erinn. The handwriting appears to be of 
the sixteenth century, and the contents of the volume would 
make about 900 pages of the Annals of the Four Masters. 

3. A large foho volume, of 238 pages (classed H. 2. 15), 
part on vellum, part on paper, consisting of a fragment of Bre- 
non laws, on vellum, transcribed about the year 1300; two 
copies of Cormac's Glossary, on paper (one of them by Duald 
Mac Firbis) ; another ancient Derivative Glossary, in the same 
hand ; and some fragments of the early history of Erinn, on vel- 
lum. This volume would make about 500 pages of the Annals 
of the Four Masters. 

4. A large folio volume, of 400 pages (classed H. 2. 17), 
part on paper, and part on vellum, consisting chiefly of frag- 
ments of various old books or tracts, and, among others, a 
fra^ent of a curious ancient medical treatise. This volume 
likewise contains a fragment of the Tdin B6 Chuailgni; and, 
among merely literary tales, it includes that of the Reign of 
Saturn, an impeifect eastern story, as well as an account of the 
Argonautic expedition (imperfect^, and of the Destruction of 
Troy (also imperfect). With this volume are bound up nine 
leaves belonging to the Book of Lecain, containing, amongst 
other things, the "Dialogue of the Two Sages"; the Royal 
Precepts of King Cormac Mac Art; a fragment of the Danish 
Wars; short biographical sketches of some of the Irish Saints; 
and many other mteresting historic pieces. The Guedhlic text 
of this volume would make altogether about 1400 pages of the 
Annals of the Four Masters. 

5. A large vellum quarto (classed H. 3. 3), containing a fine, 
but much decayed, copy of the Dinnseanchus. It would make 
about 100 pages. 

6. A small quarto volume, of 870 pages, on vellum, written 
in the sixteenth century (classed H. 3. 17.). The contents, up 
to the 617th page, consist of ancient laws ; and from that to 
the end the contents are of the most miscellaneous character. 
They consist chiefly of short pieces, such as Bricrinn's Feast, 
an ancient tale of the Ultonians (imperfect); an account of 
the expulsion of the Diisej (Decies, or Deasys), from Bregia; a 
list of the wonders of Erinn ; the tract on the ancient pagan 



LECT. IX. cemeteries of Erinn j the account of the Division of Erinn 
Of the chief *"^<^^g ^'^ AiAeoch Tuaiha (called by English writers the Atta- 
vciium Msa cots); the discovery of Cashel, and story of the two Druids: 
together with the genealogies of the O'Briens, and the Suc- 
cession of the monarchs of Ireland of the line oijSber, In the 
same volimie wiU be found, too, the curious account of the reve- 
lation of the Crucifixion to Conor Mac Nessa, king of Ulster, by 
his druid, on the day upon which it occurred, and of the death 
of Conor in consequence ; the story of the elopement of Ere, 
daughter of the king of Albain (or Scotland), with the Irish 
prince Muiredhachj grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages; a 
tract on Omens, fix)m the croaking of ravens, etc. ; the trans- 
lation of the history of the Britons by Nennius ; the story of the 
courtship of J^nn Mac Cumhaill (pron. " Finn Mac Coole") and 
Ailhhi ^ron. " Alveh"), the daughter of kin^ Coimac Mac Art ; 
together with many other short but valuable pieces. This volume 
would make 1700 oages of Gaedhlic text Uke those of iSn^ 
Annals of the Four Masters. 

7. A small quarto volume, of 665 pages of vellum, and 194 

pages paper, written in the sixteenth century (classed H. 3. 18). 
The first 500 mges contain various tracts and fragments of 
ancient laws. The remainder, to the end, consists of several 

independent glossaries, and glosses of ancient poems and prose 
tracts ; together with the ancient historical tales of Bruighean 
Da Chogadh (pron. " Breean d& Cugga") ; a story of Cathal 
Mac FinghuinSj king of Munster in the middle of the eighth 
century; stories of Konan Mac Aedha (pron. " Mac (Ea , or 
Mae Hugh), king of Leinster; and the story of the poetess 
Liadain, of Kerry. This volimae contains also the account of 
the revolution of the Aitheach Tuaiha [or Attacots], and the 
murder by them of the kings and nobles of Erinn; Tundal's 
vision; poems on the O'Neills, and on the Mac Donnells of 
Antrim ; John O'Mulchonroy's celebrated poem on Brian-na- 
Murtha O'Rourke ; together with a great number of short arti- 
cles on a variety of historic subjects, bearing on all parts of 
Erinn ; and some pedigrees of the chief families of Ulster, 
Cormacht, and Leinster. This volume would make about 1800 
pages of the Annals of the Four Masters. 

8. A small quarto volume, of 230 pages (classed H. 4. 22), 
seventy of which contain fragments of ancient laws. The 
remainder of the book contains a great variety of tracts and 
poems, and among others a large and important tract on the 
first settlement of the Milesians in Erinn; a fragment of the 
tale called Bricrinn's Feast; several ancient poems on the fami- 
lies of the O'Neills, the O'DriscoUs, the Mac Renalds, etc. ; 


together with various small poems and prose tracts of some lbct. tx. 
value. This volume appears to be made up of fragments of two ^^ ^^^^ 
books. The writing of the first seventy pages seems to be of T«iittm mss. 
the sixteenth century, but the remaining part appears to be at ^ ^'^'^' 
least a century older. The entire volume has suffered much 
from neglect, and from exposure to smoke and damp. The 
Gaedhlic text of it would make about 500 pages of the Annals 
of the Four Masters. 

To these books I may add (as being preserved in the same 
library) the Annals of Ukter, and those of Loch CS, already 
spoken of, both on vellum, and the text of which would make 
•Dout 900 pages of the Annals of the Four Masters. 

Besides these vellum manuscripts of law and history, the Tri- 
nity College library contains a large collection of paper MSS. 
of great vfuue, being transcripts of ancient vellum books made 
chiefly in the first half of the last centurv. To enumerate, and 
even partially to analyse, these paper M§S., would carry me far 
beyond the hmits to which the present lecture must necessarily 
be confined ; but among the most important of them I may men- 
tion a volume written about the year 1690, by Owen O'Don- 
nelly (an excellent Gaedhlic scholar) ; some large volumes by 
the O'Neachtans [John and Tadhg, or Tcige], between the years 
1716 and 1740; a copy of the Wars of Thomond, made by 
Andrew Mac Gurtin in 1716 ; and several large volumes trans- 
cribed by Hugh O'Daly for Doctor Francis O'Sullivan of Tri- 
nity GoUege, m and about the year 1750, the originals of which 
are not now known. 

In this catalogue of books I have not particularised, nor in 
some instances at all included, the large Dody of ecclesiastical 
writings preserved in the Trinity Gollege library, consisting of 
ancient hves of Irish saints, and other religious pieces, in prose 
and verse. Neither have I included, in my analyses of the col- 
lection, the fac-simile copies made bv myself, for the library, of 
the Book of JLecain (on vellum), of tne so called Leahhar Breac 
(on paper), of the Danish Wars, of Mac Firbis's glossaries, and 
of a volume of ancient Irish deeds (on paper). 

The library of the Royal Irish Academy, besides its fine of the mss. 
treasures of ancient vellum manuscripts, contains also a very utaSy of 
large number of important paper manuscripts; but as they*^*^^-^ 
amount to some hunieds, it would be totally out of my power, 
and beyond the scope of this lecture, to enumerate them, or to 
give the most meagre analysis of their varied contents.^**^ 

<««> A list of all the Gaedhlic MSS. in the libraries of the R. Irish Academy 
and Tiirnty College, Dublin, will be found in the Appendix, No. LXXXVL 

13 B 


LECT. IX. There are, however, a few amon^ them to which 1 feel called 
Book ^P^^ particularly to allude, although in terms more brief than, 
ov^isMoiuL with more time and space, I should have been disposed to de- 
vote to them. 

The first of these volumes that I wish to bring under your 
notice, is a fragment of the book well known as the Book of 
LiSMOBE. This is a manuscript on paper of the largest folio size 
and best quality. It is a fac-simile copy made by me firom the 
original, in the year 1839, for the Royal Irish Academy. Tliis 
transcript is an exact copy, page for page, line for line, word for 
word, and contraction for conti-action, and was carefully and at- 
tentively read over and collated with the original, by Dr. John 
O'Donovan and myself. And indeed I think I may safely say 
that I have recovered as much of the text of the original as it 
was possible to bring out, without the application of acids or 
other chemical preparations, which I was not at liberty to use. 

Of the history of the original MS., which is finely written on 
vellum of the largest size, we know nothing previous to the year 
1814. In that year the late Duke of Devonshire commenced 
the work of repairing the ancient castle of Lismore in the county 
of Waterford, his property ; and in the progress of the work, the 
men having occasion to re-open a door-way that had been closed 
up with masoniy in the interior of the castle, they found a 
wooden box enclosed in the centre of it, which, on being taken 
out, was found to contain this MS., as well as a superb old cro- 
zier. The MS. had suffered much firom damp, and the back, 
firont, and top margin had been gnawed in several places by rata 
or mice ; but worse than that, it was said that the workmen by 
whom the precious box was found, carried off several loose leaves, 
and even whole staves of the book. Whether this be the case 
or not, it is, I regret to say, true that the greater number of the 
tracts contained in it are defective, and, as I believe, that whole 
tracts have disappeared from it altogether since the time of its 
discovery. The book was preserved for some time with great 
care by the late Colonel Curry, the Duke of Devonshire's agent, 
who, however, in 1815, lent it to Dennis O'Flinn, a professed, 
but a very indifferent, Irish scholar, living then in Mallow Lane, 
in the city of Cork. OTlinii bound it m wooden boards, and 
disfigured several parts of it, by writing on the MS. While in 
OTlinn's hands it was copied, in the whole or in part, by Mi- 
chael O'Longan, of Camgnavar, near Cork. It was OTlinn 
who gave it the name of " Book of Lismore", merely because it 
was found at that place. After having made such use of the book 
as he thought proper, O'Flinn returned it,bound, as I have already 
stated, to Colonel Curry, some time between die years 1816 and 


1820 ; and so the venerable old relic remained unquestioned, lect. ix. 
and, I believe, unopened, until it was borrowed by the Royal ^^ ^^^ 
Irish Academy, to be copied for them by me, in the year 1839. of lismobb. 

The facilities for close examination which the slow progress 
of a fac-simile transcript afforded me, enabled me to clearly dis- 
cover this at least, that not only was the abstraction of portions 
of the old book of recent date, but that the dishonest act had 
been deliberatelv perpetrated by a skilful hand, and for a double 

i>urpose. For it was not only that whole staves had been pil- 
fered, but particular subjects were mutilated, so as to leave the 
part that was returned to Lismore almost valueless without the 
abstracted parts, the offending parties having first, of course, 
copied all or the most part of the mutilated pieces. 

After my transcript nad been finished, and the old firagments 
of the origmal returned to Lismore by the Academy, I insti- 
tuted, on my own account, a close inquiry in Cork, with the 
view of discovering, if possible, whether any part of the Book 
of Lismore still remained there. Some seven or eight years 
passed over, however, without my gaining any information on 
the subject, when I happened to meet by accident, in Dublin, a 
literary gentleman from the town of Middleton, ten miles fi*om 
the city of Cork ; and as I never missed an opportunity of 
prosecuting my inquiries, I lost no time in communicating to 
nim mv suspicions, and the circumstances on which they were 
grounded, tnat part of the Book of Lismore must be still re- 
maining in Cork. To my joy and surprise the gentleman told 
me that he had certain knowledge of the fact of a large portion of 
the original MS. being in the hands of some person in Cork ; that 
he had seen it in the hands of another party, but that he did not 
know the owner, nor how or when he became possessed of it. 

In a short time after this the late Sir William Betham^s col- 
lection of MSS. passed, bv purchase, into the library of the Royal 
Lish Academy ; and as I knew that the greater part of this col- 
lection had been obtained firom Cork, I lost no time in examin- 
ing them closely for any copies of pieces fi*om the Book of Lis- 
more. Nor was I disappointed ; for I found among the books 
copies of the lives of Samt Brendan, Saint Ciaran of Clonmac- 
nois. Saint Mochna of Balla in Mayo, and Saint Finnchu of 
Brigobhann in the county of Cork ; besides several legends and 
minor pieces ; all copied by Michael OXon^an from the Book 
of Lismore, in the nouse of Denis Bdn OTlinn, in Cork, in 
the year 1816. And not only does OXongan state, at the end 
of one of these lives, that he copied these from the book which 
Denis OTlinn had borrowed from Lismore, but he gives the 
weight of it, and the number of leaves or folios which the book 


LECT. IX. in its integrity contained. As a further piece of presumptive 
The Book cvidencc of the Book of Lismore having been mutilated in Cork 
OF Lrsxowt. about this time, allow me to read for you the following memo- 
randum in pencil, in an unknown hand, which has come into 
my possession: — 

** Mr. Denis O'Flyn of Mallow Lane, Cork, has brought a 
book from Lismore lately, written on vellum about 900 years 
ago, by Miles O'Kelly for Florence McCarthy; it contains the 
lives of some principal Irish Saints, with other historical facts 
such as the wars of the Danes — 31st October, 1815"- 

To this I may add here the following extract of a letter 
written by Mr. Joseph Long, of Cork, to the late William 
Elliott Hudson, of Dublin, Esq., dated Feb. the 10th, 1848: 

" Honoured Sir, — ^I have taken the liberty of bringing this 
MS. to your honour. It contjuns various pieces copied from 
the Book of Lismore, and other old Irish MSS. They are pieces 
which I believe you have not as yet in your collection. Its 
contents are ^Forbuis Droma Damhghoir6\ a historic legend, 
describing the invasion of Munster by Cormac Mac Art, the 
wonderful actions of the druids, druidish incantations, and 
Boforth; ^ Air an da Fearmaighi\ a topography of the two 
Fermoys, together with an account of its chieftains, tribes, or 
families, and soforth ; ' Scil Fiachna mic Iteataich\ a legend of 
Loch En in Cormaught ; Riaghail do riahthibh, a rule for kin^ 
composed by Dubh Mac Turin(?) ; ' ScM air Chairbri Cinn-cait\ 
the murder of the royal chieftains of Erinn by their slaves, the 
descendants of the Firbolgs, and soforth. — ^Book of Lismore". 

With all these evidences before me of a part of the Book of 
Lismore having been detained in Cork, in the year 1853 1 pre- 
vailed on a friend of mine in that city to endeavour to ascer- 
tain in whose hands it was, what might be the nature of its 
contents, whether it would be sold, and at what price. All this 
my friend kindly performed. He procured me what purported 
to be a catalogue of the contents of the Cork part of the Book 
of Lismore, and he ascertained that the fragment consisted of 66 
folios, or 132 pages, and that it would be sold for fifty pounds. 

I immediately offered, on the part of the Rev. Doctors Todd 
and Graves, then the secretaries to the Royal Irish Academy, 
the sum named for the book ; but some new conditions with 
which I had no power to comply, were afterwards added, and 
the negociation broke off at this point. 

The book shortly after passed, by purchase, into the posses- 
sion of Thomas Hewitt, Esq., of Summerhill House, near Cork ; 
and in January, 1855, a memoir of it was read before the Cu- 


vieiian Society of Cork, by John Windele, Esq., of Blair's Cafitle, lect. ix. 
in which he makes the following statement : — ^^ ^^^ 

^' The work, it was at first supposed, may have been a pordon or lismobi 
of the Book of Lismore, so well Known to our literary antiquar 
rians, but it is now satisfactorily ascertained to have been tran- 
scribed, in the latter half of the fifteenth centu^, for Fineen 
McCarthy Rea^h, Lord of Carbery, and his wife Catherine, the 
daughter of Thomas, eighth Earl of Desmond". " Unfortu- 
nately", he adds, " the volume has suflfered some mutilation by 
the loss of several folios. The life of Finnchu and the Forbuis 
are partly defective in consequence; but we possess amongst 
our local MS. collections entire copies of these pieces". 

To be sure, they have in Cork entire copies of these pieces ; 
but they are copies, by Michael OXongan, fi'om the Book of 
Lismore, before its mutilation among them, or eke copies made 
from his copies by his sons. 

That Mr. Windele believed what he wrote about the Cork 
fragment, there can of course be no doubt ; still it is equalty in- 
dubitable that this same fragment is part and parcel of the nook 
of Lismore, and that it became detached from it while in the 
hands of Denis OTlinn, of Cork, some time about the year 1816. 
And it is, therefore, equally certain, that the book which Mr. 
Hewitt purchased, perhaps as an original bond fide volume with 
some slight losses, is nothmg more than a fragment, consisting of 
about one-third part of the Book of Lismore, and that this part 
was fraudulently abstracted in Cork at the time above indicated. 
The two pieces which Mr. Windele particulaxizes as being de- 
fective in the Cork part, are abo defective in the Lismore part ; 
the Life of Saint Finchu wants but about one page in the latter, 
while in Cork they cannot have more of it than one page or 
folio ; and of the Forbuis, something about the first half is at 
Lismore, while no more than the second half can be in Cork. 
And although I have never seen any part of the Cork fragment, 
I feel bold enough to say, that, should both parts be brought to- 
gether in presence of competent judges, they will be pronounced 
to be parts of the same onginal volume, and that several of the 
defects in either will be exactly supplied by the other. 

My transcript of the Lismore firagment of this valuable book 
consists of 131 folios, or 262 jpages. The chief items of the 
contents are : Ancient Lives of Saint Patrick, Saint Colum Cille, 
Saint Brigid of Kildare, Saint Senan (of Scatteiy Island, in 
the Lower Shannon), Saint Finnen of Clonard, and Saint 
Finnchu of Brigobhan, in the coimty of Cork, all written in 
Gtiedhlic of great purity and antiquity ; the conquests of Char- 
lemagne, translatea from the celebrated romance of the middle 


LfecT. IX. ages, ascribed to Turpin, Archbishop of Rheims ; the conversion 
of the Pantheon at Kome into a Christian Church; the storj 

ow LiiMou. of Petronilla, the daughter of Saint Peter ; the discovery of the 
Sybilline oracle in a stone coffin at Rome ; the History of the 
•Lombards (imperfect) ; an account of Saint Gregory the Great ; 
the heresy of the Empress Justina ; of some modifications of cer- 
tain minor ceremonies of the Mass ; an account of the successors 
of CharlemsOTe; of the correspondence between Archbishop 
Lan£ranc and the clergy of Rome ; extracts fix>m the Travels of 
Marco Polo ; an account of the battles of the celebrated Ceal- 
lachan^ king of Cashel, with the Danes of Erinn, in the tenth 
century ; of the battle of CWnna, Ti)etween Cormac Mac Art, king 
of Iremnd, and the Ulstermen ; and of the siege of Drom Dawh- 

{haxH [now called Knocklong, in the County of Limerick], by 
ing Cormac Mac Art, against the men of Munster. This last, 
though a strictly historic tale in its leading facts, is full of wild 
incident, in which Mogh Ruith, the great Munster druid, and 
Cithmadh, and Colptha, the druids of the monarch Cormac, bear 
a most conspicuous and curious part. 

The last piece in the book is one of very great interest ; it is 
in the form of a dialogue between Saint Patrick and the two 
surviving warriors of tne band of heroes led by the celebrated 
Finn Mac Cumhaill, CaoiltS, the son of Ronan, and Oisin [com- 
monly written in English "Ossian"], the warrior-poet, son of 
Finn himself. It describes the situation of several of the hills, 
mountains, rivers, caverns, rills, etc., in Lreland, with the deriva- 
tion of their names. It is much to be regretted that this very 
curious tract is imperfect. But for these defects, we should 
probably have found in it notices of almost every monument of 
note in ancient Ireland; and, even in its mutilated state, it 
cannot but be regarded as preserving many of the most ancient 
traditions to which we can now have access, traditions which 
were committed to writing at a period when the ancient customs 
of the people were unbroken and undisturbed. 

I regret that space does not allow me to analyse a few more 
of the important paper books in the Academy's library ; but I 
think I have abeady done enough to enable you to form some 
intelligible general estimate of the value and extent of the old 
GaedMic books in Dublin ; and I shall only add, that the paper 
books in Trinity College and the Academy are above 600 in 
number, and may be estimated to contain about 30,000 pages 
of Gaedhlic text, if printed at length in the form to which I 
have so often referred as a specimen, that of O'Donovan's Annak. 
There is, however, one collection (rather, I may say, one 
class of MS. monuments of Irish history) which I cannot pass by 


without at least alluding to it, though it would be, perhaps, im- Lger. rx. 
proper for me at the present moment to enter upon any detjdled '^ 
accoimt of it: I mean the great body of the laws of Ancient Sw" mss!*" 
Erinn, commonly called by the English the "Brehon Laws". 
This collection is so immense in extent, and the subjects dealt 
with throughout the whole of it, in the utmost detail, are so 
numerous, and so fiilly illustrated by exact deiinitions and 
minute descriptions, that, to enable us to fill up the outline sup- 
plied by the annals and genealogies, these books of laws alone 
would ahnost be found sufficient in competent hands. Indeed if 
it were permitted me to enlarge upon their contents, even to the 
extent to which I have spoken upon the subject of the various 
annals 1 have described to you, I should be forced to devote many 
lectures to this subject alone. But these ancient laws, as you are 
all aware, are now, and have been for the last three years, in 
progress of transcription and preparation for publication, imder 
the direction of a Commission of Irish noblemen and gentlemen, 
appointed by royal warrant ; and it would not be for me to an- 
ticipate their regular publication. 

The quantity of transcript already made (and there is still a 
part to be made), amounts to over Jive thotisand close quarto 
pages, which, on average, would be equal to near 8000 pages 
of the text of O'Donovan's Annals. This quantity, of course, 
contains many duplicate pieces ; and it will rest with the Com- 
missioners whether to publish the whole mass, or only a fair and 
full text, compiled from a collation of all the duplicate copies. 

Any one who has examined the body of Welsh Laws, now 
some years before the world, will at once be able to form a fair 
opinion of tiie interest and value, in a historical and social poiat 
of view, of this far larger — ^this immense and hitherto unex- 
plored mass of legal institutes. And these were the laws and in- 
stitutes which regulated the political and social system of a 
people the most remarkable in Europe, from a period almost ^ 
lost in the dark mazes of antiquity, down to within about two 
hundred years, or seven generations, of our own time, and whose 
spirit and traditions, I may add, influence the feelings and 
actions of the native Irish even to this day ! To these laws may 
we, indeed, justiy apply the expressive remark of the poet 
Moore on the old MSS. in the Royal Irish Academy, that they 
"were not written by a foolish people, nor for any foolish 
purpose". Into the particulars and arrangement of this mass 
of fiiws I shall not enter here, since they are, as I have 
already stated, in the hands of a Commission on whose preroga- 
tives I have no disposition to trench. I may, however, be per- 
mitted to observe tnat, copious though the records in which the 


LBCT. IX. actions and everyday life of our remote ancestors have come 
Tiie"Br«hon ^^^^^ ^ ^> tliTougn the various dociunents of which I have 
Law'Mss. been speaking, stiU, without these laws, our history would 
be necessarily barren, deficient, and uncertain in one of its most 
interesting and important essentials. For what can be more 
essential mr the historian^s purpose than to have the means of 
fleeing clearly what the laws and customs were precisely, which 
governed and regulated the general and relative action of the 
monarch and the provincial kings; of the provincial kings 
and the hereditaiy princes and chiefs; of these in turn, and 
of what may be c^ed the hereditary proprietors, the Flaiihs 

S pronounced " flails'^, or landlords ; and below these agidn, of 
eir &imers, and tenants, of all grades and conditions, native 
and stranger ; — and what is even more interesting, if possible, 
the conditions on which these various parties held theur lands, 
and the local customs which regulated their agrarian and social 
policy; as well as in general the sumptuary and economical 
laws, and the several customs, which distinguished all these 
classes one from another, compliance with which was abso- 
lutely neces^uy to maintain them in their proper ranks and 
respective privileges? There are thousands of allusions to the 
men and women of those days, as well as to various circum- 
stances, manners, customs, and habits, to be met with in our 
historic writings, otherwise inexplicable, which find a clear 
and natural solution in these venerable institutes. And there 
are besides, too, a vast number of facts, personal and historical, 
recorded in the course of the laws (often stated by the com- 
mentator or scribe as examples or precedents of the application 
of the particular law imder discussion), which must be care- 
fully gleaned from them, before that History which is yet to 
be firamed out of the materials I have described to you, can 
ever be satisfactorilv completed. 

These things will become accessible to all when the labours of 
the Commission are concluded, when the immense and magni* 
ficent work which the Commission is charged to publish shall 
be (a few 3rears hence) arranged, indexed, and prmted. And 
perhap this maj be but the second great step in these times — 
Mr. George Smith's publication of the Annals having bewi the 
first — ^towards the vindication of the ancient honour of the noble 
race of Ennn. Much more, both in ecclesiastical and secular 
history* remains to be done. Is the next step af^r these re- 
served to be taken under the aaispices of a great National Insti- 
tution, such as one may surely hope this, the Catholic Univer- 
sity of Ireland, is destined to become ? 


[Dtllvmd Mareh 0, ISfift.] 

The Books of Genealogies and Pedigrees. 

In the present Lecture I propose to finish this part of our Intro- 
ductory course on the existing MS. materiab of ancient Irish 
History, by giving you some account of the great Records of 
the Genealogies and Pedigrees of the Ghiedhlic race, found 
in the earliest and most reliable of the books I have described 
to you. 

In all civilized nations, where the possession of property or 
the governing power was, firom whatever cause, vested in any one 
individual, witn the right of transmission to posterity through 
his legitimate descendants, direct or collateral, it follows, as a 
mere matter of course, that all persons living subject to such a le- 
gal arrangement must have taken good care to preserve accurate 
evidences of their descent and identity, — accurate evidence such 
as might sustwn their claims to the succession, whether of pro- 
perty or dignity, territory or emoluments, whenever any dispute 
upon such subjects should arise. And the natural necessity of 
preserving genealories and pedigrees being thus simgly estab- 
ushed, it must be clear that the miportant duty of their preser- 
vation could not be left to the care of irresponsible persons alone ; 
and that, therefore, while every branch of the family kept a 

E roper record of its own descent (as well as of all the other 
ranches in relation to its own), some qualified persons must at 
all times have been set apart for the express purpose of keeping 
a public record of all the descending branches of the original 
tree. Such records must have been kept, in order that, when- 
ever a reference to records was found necessary, no individual 
representative should be able to advance his own claims upon 
any mere private proofs within his own private power, nor on 
any authoritjr save such as might be found to accord with that 
of a responsible public officer. 

And such precautions, we find, were efiectually taken under 
the ancient customs and laws of Erinn. 

To obviate all difficulties in respect of the right of succession 
to the supreme rule, therefore, we find that the monarch of 


LECT.x. Erinn had sIytqjq aa officer of high distinction attached to his 

Official court, whose office it was to keep, from generation to genera- 

recorda of tion, a Written record, or genealogical history, of all the descend- 

Sogies.^ inff branches of the royal family. And me same officer was 

obliged to keep true record not only of these, but of the families 

of aU the provincial kings, and of all the principal territorial chiefs 

.in each province, in order that, in case of a dispute among them 

and a final appeal to the court of the chief king, he might be in 

a position to decide such a dispute by the solemn anmority of 

a sure and impartial public record. 

This public officer, according to law, could only be elected 
from the order of Ollamha; and the Ollamh may be described 
as a doctor, or man who had arrived at the highest degree of his- 
torical learning and of general literary attainments under the an- 
cient Gaedhlic system of education. Every Ollamh should also 
(according to the laws of the country, now popularly called the 
" Brehon Laws") be an adept in regal synchronisms, snould know 
the boundaries of all the provinces and chieftaincies, and should 
be able to trace the genealogies of all the tribes of Erinn up to 
Adam. An Ollamh should also, according to the same law, 
be civil of tongue, unstained by crime, and pure in morals. 

The officer 1 have thus spoken of should be, then, an Ollamh 
thus qualified ; and he was privileged and bound to make perio- 
dical visits to the provincial courts, and to the mansions of all 
the chiefs throughout the land ; to inspect their books of family 
history and genealogies ; to enter the names and number of the 
leading or eldest branches of each family in his own book ; and, 
on his return to Tara (or wherever the monarch might happen 
to hold his residence), to write these matters into what was of old 
called the Monarch's Book, but which, in more modem times, 
seems to have been designated the Saltair of Tara. 

And not only had the Monarch his Ollamh for these important 
. state purposes, but every provincial king, and even every smaller 
territorial Chief, had his own OllamJi, or Seanchaidhi ^pron. 
"shanachy"= historian], for the provincial and other territorial 
records ; and in obedience to an ancient law (established long 
before the introduction of Christianity in the fifth century), all 
the provincial records, and those of the various clann chief- 
tains, were returnable every third year to a great convocation 
or feast at Tara, where they were solenml^ compared with 
each other, and with the great Book or Saltair of the monarch, 
and purified and corrected where or whenever they required it. 

As a very sufficient authority for the existence of this great 
Monarchical Book, in the third century of the Christian era, 
I may refer you, among many others, to the poem by Cinaeth 


[or KennetliJ O'Hartigan, on Tara, and on King Connac ikfoc lect. x. 
jiirtj of which I have spoken in a former lecture. 

It has long been the fashion among English writers, and credibility 
those who ignorantly follow them in Ireland, to sneer at the ^qSty^Sf 
very idea of any nation, or any families of a nation, being able Xgtaw.^^ 
to preserve their genealogies and pedigrees for one, two, or 
three thousand years ; and as for the suggestion, that an Insh- 
man, or a Welshman, of the year of our Lord 1856, should be 
able, with any conceivable probability or even possibility, to 
trace his generations up to IJoah, it is set down as much worse 
than absurd; it is contemptuously termed an " Irish pedigree", 
or a " Welsh pedigree", and even the very name of it is deemed, 
as a matter of course, a subject fit only for ridicule. Let us, 
however, look a little into the question, and consider for a mo- 
ment the justice of this scepticism. 

You are all aware that the original genealogies and pedigrees 
of the human race (and, indeed, the very form in which our 
own ancient genealogies and pedigrees were recorded), are to 
be foimd in the Holy jBible ; as m Genesis, chapter x., verses J to 
5, beginning : " These are the generations of tne sons of Noe (or 
Noah) : Sem, Cham, and Japheth ; and imto them sons were 
bom after the flood". Now this Scripture record goes on: — 

2. " The sons of Japheth [were] ; Gomer, and Magog, and 
Madai, and Javan^ and Thubal, and Mosoch, and Thiras. 

3. " And the sons of Gomer [were] ; Ascenez, and Riphath, 
and Thogorma. 

4. " -£id the sons of Javan [were] ; Elisa, and Tharsis, 
Oetthim, and Dodanim. 

6. ** By these were divided the islands of the Gentiles in 
their lands ; every one according to his tongue, and their fami- 
lies in their nations", etc. 

It is curious that the sons of Magog, the second son of 
Japheth, are not enumerated in this genealogy ; and yet it is 
to this remote ancestor that all the ancient colonists ot Ireland 
carry up their pedigrees, as recorded here long before Christi- 
anity and Chnstian books foimd their way into the country. 
Nor are the Gaedhils the only people said to have descended 
fi:om Magog; for I may remark, in passing, that the Bactrians, 
the Partmans, and others, also claimed descent firom him. 

I shall not, however, follow to-day the subject of the verifi- 
cation of the ancient descent of the royal races of Erinn; and I 
have only thrown out so much by way of hinting to you, that, 
notwithstanding the sneers to wmch I have alluded, still a great 
deal of serious study may be required before any rational con- 


LECT. X. elusion can be arrived at with certainty in relation to it. I have 
A trial hi ^^^ to-daj to do with the plan and method followed by our 
toricai ac- auccstors, in recording and preserving the Grenealogies of the 
G^eai!^ Irish nation, as these have actually been handed £)wn to us 
from the days of our early kings. I desire to deal with them 
. simply as one branch of those materials for our history, of 
which I have described to you so many, as having come down 
to us in an authentic form. And whatever may be the opinions 
of modem commentators (all of them very ill informed on the 
subject) as to the truth of the more remote genealogies before 
the arrival of the Graedhlic colony in Erinn, I think I have given 
you the most solid reason to trust the records of the Gaedhlic 
genealogies from that or at least from a very remote time down- 
wards, made and preserved, as we know they were, with the care 
prescribed by the laws to which I have just called your attention. 

I have shown in a former lecture, on authority that cannot well 
be questioned, that the Pedigrees of the Graedhlic nation were 
collected and written into a single book (which was called the 
Cin, or Book, of Dromsneacht) by the son ofDuach Galach, king 
of Connacht, — and an Ollamh m history, in genealogies, etc., 
— shortly before the arrival of Saint Patrick in Ireland, which 
happened in the year 432. It follows necessarily that those pe- 
digrees and genealogies must have been already m existence, — 
doubtless in the various tribe-books ; and it is more than pro- 
bable that their leading portions had before then been entered, 
in the manner and under the law I have already explained, in 
the great Book of Tara. 

Without going farther back, then, than this Book of Drom- 
sneachty which is so often quoted in our ancient MSS., it will 
be plain that succeeding OUamhs and genealogists had before 
them a plan and mode of proceeding with their work, either 
founded on still more remote precedents, or, at all events, 
adopted so long ago as the earlier portion of the fifth century, 
by the author of wiat celebrated book. 

Nothing could be more simple than the plan of keeping local 
Pedigrees, where, as was the case in Ireland, each kingdom, 
provmce, and principality appointed a fully qualified officer for 

Every free-bom man of the tribe was, according to the law 
of the country, entitled by blood, should it come to his turn, to 
succeed to the chieftaincy; and every principal family kept its 
own pedigree as a check on the officer of the tribe or provmce, 
and as an authority for its own claim, should the occasion arise. 

As the Milesians were the last of the ancient colonists, and 


had subdued the races previously existing in Ireland, it is their ^^<^' ^ 
genealogies only, with some very few exceptions, that have Tho MUesian 
been thus carried down to the later times. Genealogies. 

The genealogical tree then begins with the brothers Eber 
and Eremoa, the two surviving leaders of the Milesian expedi- 
tion ; and, after tracing their ancestors so far back as to Magog, 
the son of Japheth, the earliest genealogies give us the manner 
of the death of each of these sons of Milesius, and the number 
and names of their sons again, respectively. 

From Eber, according to all the genealogies, descend all the The unea of 
families of the south of Ireland, represented at present by the Eimmf 
race of OilioU Oluim: as the Mac Carthys, the O'Briens, and 
their various branches. From Eremon, on the other hand, 
descend the great races of Connacht and Leinster, represented 
by the 0*Conors, the Mac Murrochs, etc., as well as the great 
races of Ulster, also, from the fourth century down, represented 
by the O'Donnells, the O'Neills, etc. 

Besides these two chief races, the records relate the descent The iiion 
of two others of great historical importance. From Emer, the S^*^**" 
son of Ir (who was the brother of Eber and Eremon), descend 
the races of DTodA, or Ulidia [an ancient district consisting 
nearly of the present coimties of Down and Antrim], now re- 
presented by the family of Magenis of Down ; and from Lu- 
gaidh, the son of Ith^ their cousin, who settled in the west of 
the present coimty of Cork, descended the races of that district, 
represented in chief by the family of O'DriscolL FThis latter 
race of Gaedhils is mmutely traced in the Miscellany of the 
Celtic Society, published in 1849.] 

To these iour,— or rather, indeed, with very few exceptions, 
to the two brothers, Eber and Eremon, — all the great hues of 
the Milesian family, all the great chieftain lines of ancient Erinn, 
are traced up. It is not, however, to be expected that any re- 
cord of the genealogies of the people in general, in those remote 
ages, could possibly have come down to our times. It is only 
in the succession of the monarchs, of the provincial kings and 
chieftains, and in the lines of saints and other remarkable persons, 
that we invariably find the new king or personage traced back 
through all the generations, either to his remote ancestor, 
Eber,TEremon, Ir, or Ith, or at aU events, to some person whose 
pedigree has been in some previous part of the great genealogical 
records aheady traced up to these sources, 

The first great starting point in the Eremonian lines of pedi- 
grees, and &om which the great families of Connacht and Lein- 
Bter branch off, is to be found in Ugain4 Mor^ who flourished. 


LECT. X. accordii^ to out annals, more than 500 years before the Incar- 
The Ero- ^^^^^on 01 OUT Lord. From his elder son Cobhthach (pron. nearly 
median' " C6v-a", now " Coffey"), descend all the families of Connacht, as 
cvlrfn^j/dr. well as the O'DonneUs, the O'Neills, and others, of Ulster; and 
from his second son, Lasghairi (pron. nearly " Leariy"), de- 
scend the chief families of Leinster. 

Again, in the second century of the Christian era a great di- 
vision of families took place in Leinster, that, namely, of the 
sons of the monarch Cattiair Mor (pron. ** Ca-hir more"), who 
divided his hereditary kingdom of Leinster among his sons, to 
some one of whom ail the later Leinster families trace up their 
The Daicas- Li the ncxt, the third century, again, a great division of ter- 
E^ghi^Mta ritories took place in Munster between Fiacha Muilleathan, the 
of Munater. gon of Edglian Mor the elder, and Cormac Cas, the younger son 
of OilioU Oluim^ the king of that province; Eoghan's son 
taking South Munster, and his uncle Cormac Cas, North Mun- 
ster, or Thomond ; and it is to one or the other of these two 
personages that aU the great Munster families of the line of 
Eber trace up their pedigrees. 

Again, in the fourth century a great division of families 
and of territory took place in Connacht and Ulster, between 
the three sons of the monarch Eochaidh Muiahmheadhoin, — 
Brian, Fiachra, and Niall, afterwards called Niall of the Nine 
Hostajffes. The two elder sons were settled in Connacht; and 
from them descend the chief families of that province, north 
and south, excepting the O'KeUys, the Mac Rannalls, and some 
others. The younger son, Niall, succeeded to the monarchy : 
and this Niall had seven sons, among whom he divided the 
territories of Meath and Ulster, the district comprising the pre- 
sent counties of Antrim and Down excepted ; and it is to these 
sons that all the great families of these territories trace up 
their pedigrees. 

Having so far placed before you, with much more brevity 
than I could wish, the remote leading points at which the 
great families of Ireland are recorded to have separated, I shall 
now proceed to show you how the genealogies have been 
arranged, and, with their still continued separations, carried 
down in some instances even to our times ; and as a Muster- 
man and Dalcassian, not, I trust, unreasonably attached to my 
race, I shall take my example from the really great line of the 
O'Brien. As, however, it woidd be tedious, as well as unne- 
cessary, for the purpose of a mere example, to carry the line 
down for you all the way from Eber, the son of Milesius him- 
self, I shall begin with Oilioll Oluim^ Ki^g of Munster, who 



died, according to our annals, in the year of our Lord 234. I lect. x. 
shall adopt the very form and plan of the old genealogies 
themselves, in the abridged account I am about to give you ; the o Biiens, 
because I wish thus practically to make you acquainted with mSisS?' 
the mode in which the family pedigrees were recorded by the ^^ '^™ 
OUamhs of old, and because, also, you will thus best under- oivim^ 
stand the importance of the class of MSS. which we are now 
considering, m the study of the true history of the country. 

• OilioU Oluim had several sons, seven of whom were killed in 
the celebrated battle of Magh MucruimhS, in the county of 
Galway ; and among them Edghan^ or Eugene, the eldest, from 
whom (through his son again, Fiaclia Muilleathain) descend 
what is called by old writers the "Eugenian" line, to which 
belong the Mac Carthvs, the O'Callachans, the O'SuUivans, the 
O'Keeffes, and so forth. 

Cian was another of the sons of OilioU Oluim killed in this 
battle ; he left a son Tadhg [a name now known as Teige or 
Thaddefos], from whom descend the O'CarroUs of Ely O'Carroll, 
the O'Reardons, the O'Haras, the O'Garas, etc., as well as seve- 
ral families of East Meath. 

Cormac Gas, the second son of OilioU Oluim^ was the only 
one of his children who survived the great battle of Magh 
Mueruimhi, fmd between him and Fiacha (the son of the eldest 
son, Eugene), the old king divided his territory into North 
and South Munster, giving to Fiacha the south, and to Cormac 
the north part. (This norm part, I should observe, did not then 
comprehend the present county of Clare, that territory being at 
the time in the occupation of a tribe of the old Firbolg race.) 

Cormac Cas (whose wife was the daughter of the celebrated 
poet Oisin^ or Ossian, son of the great warrior Finn Mac Cum- 
haUlj or Mac Coole) had a son Mogh Corb, who had a son 
Fer Carb, who had a son Aengus, called Tirech, or the wan- 
derer, who had a son called Ijiighaidh Meann (pron : '* Loo-y 
MSnn**). It wa£ this Lughaidh Meann that first wrested the 
present county of Clare from the Firbolgs, and attached it to 
Lis patrimony ; and the whole inheritance has been ever since 
denominated Tuadh Mhumhain^ or North Munster, a name in 
modem times Anglicized into Thomond. 

Lughaidh Meann had a son Conall, called Conall Eachluaith, 
or Conall of the Fleet Steeds ; who had a son Cas. This Cas 
(from whom the Dalcassians derive their distinctive name) had 
twelve sons,- namely, Blod, Caisin^ Imghaidh, Seadna, Aengus 
Cinnathrachj Carthainn^ Cainiochj Aengus Cinnaitin, Aedh^ 
Nae, Loisgenny and Dealbaeth. 

Blod, the eldest son of Cas, is the great stem of the Dalcas- 




LECT. X. sian race, directly represented by the O'Brians. From Caisin, 

^ the second son of Cas, descend the Siol Aodha, represented by 

thc°o Brilna, the Mac Namatas, the O'Gxadys, the Mac FlannchadJuis (now 

Munrter^ Called Clanchys), and the OCaisins, etc. From Lughaidh, the 

omoii' ^'°™ third son of Cas, descend the Muintir Dohharchon (now re- 

oiuiti^ presented by the OXiddys of Clare). From Sedna (pron: 

" ShSdna") the fourth son of Cas, descend the Cinel Sedna (not, 

I believe, now represented). From Aengus Cinnathrach^ the 

fifth son, descend the O'Deas. From Aengus Cinnaitin, the 

sixth son, descend the O'Quinns (a family who may now be 

considered to be represented by the Earl of Dunraven), and the 

O'Nechtanns. From Aedh (or Hugh), the seventh son of Cas, 

descend the O'Heas. From Dealbeath, the eighth son of Cas, 

descend the Mac Cochlanns of Dealbhna, or Delvin (in the 

county of Westmeath), the O'Scullys, etc. The descendants 

of the other sons are not now to be distinguished. 

It is curious to observe, in this recital, at how early a period 
the ancestors of those various Dalcassian families separated from 
each other But to return to the progenitor of the O'Briens. 

Blod, the eldest son of Cas, had two sons : Cairthinn Finn^ 
and Brenan Bdn, From this Brenan Ban, the second son, de- 
scend the O'Hurlys and the O'Malonys. 

Cairthinn Finn, the eldest son of Blod, had two sons, 
Eochaidh, called Bailldearq (or "of the Red Mole'*), and 
Aengus. From Aengus, tne younger son, descend, among 
others, the families of O'CamArairfA^ (now called Curry); the 
O'Cormacans (now called Maxi Cormacks); OSeamain, now 
Sexton ; ffRiada, now Reidy , etc. 

Fochaidh Bailldearg, the eldest son of Cairthinn Finn, was 
bom during the time fiiat St. Patrick was on his first mission in 
Mimster, and received baptism and benediction at the hands of 
the great apostle himself. This Fochaidh Bailldearg had a son 
Conall, who had a son Aedh Caemh, or Hugh the Comely. 

Aedh Caemh, the son of Conall, had two sons, Cathal (pron: 
** Cahal") and Congal. From Congal, the younger son, descend 
the O'Neills of Clare, and the Cn-Foghans, or Owens. Cathal, 
the elder son of Aedh Caemh, had two sons, Torloch and 
Ailgenan. It is from this Ailaenan that the O'Mearas descend. 

Torloch, the elder son of Cathal, had a son, MathgJiamhain, 
or Mahon ; who had a son. Core ; who had a son Lachtna (the 
ruins of whose ancient palace of Grianan Lachtna, situated 
about a mile north of Killaloe, I was, by means of the records 
of these ancient pedigrees, first enabled to identify, in the year 
1840, during the investigations of the Ordnance survey). 

Lachtna, the son of Core, had a valiant son, Lorcdn (a name 


now Anglicised ** Lawrence"). Lor can had three sons, Cinneidigh lect. x . 
or Kennedy; Cosgrach; and Bran. From Cosgrach, the second ~ ^^^ 

son, descend the O'Lorcans, or Larkins ; the O'Sheehans ; the the oBriens, 
OCnainJiins (now Bowens) ; the O'Hogans ; the O'Flahertys ; MunsSr 
the O'Gloiams; the O'Aingidys; and the O'Maines. From g^^y^^' ^^^^ 
Bran, the third son, descend the Sliocht Branjinn^ in Dufferin oiuim. 
in Wexford, a clann who subsequently took, and still retain, the 
name of O'Brien. 

Cinneidigh, or Kennedy, the eldest son of Lorcdn, had twelve 
sons, four only of whom left issue — namely, Mahon, Brian, 
Donnchuan (or Doncan), and Echtighem. 

From Mahon, the eldest son of Kennedy, descend the 
O'Bolands, the O^Caseys, the OSiodhachans, the Mac Inirys, 
the O'Connallys, and the OTuomys, in the county of Limerick, 

Frc«n the great Brian BoroinJii, the second son of Kennedy, 
descend the O'Briens and the Mac Mahons of Clare. 

Donnchuan, third son of Kennedy, had five sons — ^namely, two 
of the name of Kennedy, Riagan, Longargan, and CeiUachair, 
From one of the two Kennedys descend the family of O Con- 
ning (nowGunning), and from the other the family of O'Kennedy. 
From Riagan descend the O'Riagans, or O'Regans, of Clare 
and Limerick, From Longargan descend the O'Longcrgans, 
or Lonergans ; and from Ceileachair, the fifth son, descend the 
CCeileachairs, or Kellehers. 

Brian Boroimhi, the second son of Kennedy, had six sons : 
Murohadh, or Moroch, killed at the battle of Clontarf; Tadhg; 
Donnchadh, or Donoch; Domlinall, or Donnall; Conor; and 
Flann; — but two of them only left issue, namely Tadhg, the 
eldest after Moroch, and Donoch. From Tadha descend the 

rt family of the O'Briens of Thomond; and nx>m Donoch, 
O'Briens of Cuanach and Eathojrlagh, in the present 
coimties of Limerick and Tipperary, 

Tadha, the eldest surviving son of Brian Boroimhi, after the 
battle of Clontarf, had a son, Torloch. Torloch had two sons, 
Muircheartach, or Mortogh, and Diarmaid, or Dermod. 

Mortoch, from whom descend the Mac Mahons of Clare, 
assumed the monarchy of Ireland, and died in the year 1119 ; 
and the Book of Leinster brings down the genealogies of the race 
of Eber to these two brothers of the Dalcassian line, and to their 
co-descendants, the brothers Cormac and Tatffig Mac Carthy 
of the Eugenian line, both of whose names are inscribed on 
that beautmil bronze shrine of Saint Lachtin's arm, which was 
exhibited in the great Dublin Exhibition in 1853, and of which 
some account wiU be foimd in the Proceedings of the Royal 
Irish Academy (vol. v., page 461). This Cormac Mac Caruiy 

14 B 


)LECT. X. <lied in the year 1138. (And I may here observe, that by a 
general rule, from which, so far as I have known, there is never 
th "o'Brtoia, any deviation, the termination of these lines of genealogies in 
MuMter ' ancient Irish manuscript books marks the date of the compila- 
aS" *^" ^^^ ^^ ^^^ books. But to return :) 

oiuim. Dermod, the second son of Torloch, and brother of Mortoch, 

and from whom descend the O'Brians, had a son, Torloch. 
This Torloch had a son, Donnall Mdr O'Brian, who was king of 
Mimster at the period of the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1172. 

Donnall JIf or had a son, Donocn (Donnchadh) Cairbrech, who 
had a son Conor of Siubkdainechj who erected the great Abbey 
of Corcamroe, in which he was buried in the year 1260. 

Conor of Siuhhdainech (that is, Conor of the wood of Siubk- 
dainechj in Burren, where ne was killed in battle by the (J Loch- 
lainnsj in the above year) had two sons, Tadhg Caeluisge, and 
Brian Ruadhy or Roe, the ancestor of the O^Brians of Arra, in 

Tadhg^ the eldest son of Conor, had a son Torloch, the great 
hero of the wars of Thomond ; who had a son, Murtoch ; who 
had a son, Mahon; who had two sons, Brian and Conor; from 
the latter of whom descend the O'Brians of Carraig Og-Conaill 
(now called " Corrig-a-gunnell"), near Limerick. 

Brian, the elder son of Mahon, and who was styled Brian of 
the battle of Nenagh, died in the year 1399. 

The Book of Ballymote, which was compiled in the year 
1391, and the Book of Lecan, which was compiled in the year 
1416, bring down the O'Brian pedigree, as well as all other 
pedigrees, to this Brian of the battle of Nenagh, who died in 
1399, from where the Book of Leinster stops (that is, from the 
year 1119); and Duhhaltach Mac Firbisigh, of whose book we 
shall presently speak, continues the lines from 1399 down to 
his own time in 1664, as follows: — 

Brian of the battle of Nenagh had a son, Torloch ; who had a 
son, Tadhg, of Comhad ; who nad a son, Torloch ; who had two 
sons, Conor and Murchadh, or Moroch, of whom the last-named 
became the first Earl of Thomond and Baron of Inchiquin. 

Conor had a son, Donnchadh, or Donoch ; who had a son, 
Conor ; who had a son Donoch ; who had a son, Brian ; who had 
a son, Henry, seventh Earl of Thomond, living in the year 1646, 
at which date Mac Firbis stops ; and from that period the line is, 
of course, preserved in many public documents, as well as in local 
Irish records, to the late Marquis of Thomond, who died in 1855. 

Tou have heard Tin a general way, indeed, for our time 
allowed of no other) the evidences upon which such a pedigree 


as I have thus traced for you, may claim credence. You have tecr. x. 
heard in what manner the records from which I have derived 
it were kept — ^le^l records, whose authenticity, so far at least, I 
think, it will be m vain for the most sceptical critic to call in 
question, when he has properly examined and studied them. 
And if ancient pedigree in an unbroken line be indeed so 
honourable as modem fashion seems to insist it is, then here is a 
line of pedigree and genealogy that would do honour to the 
most dignified crowned head in the world. 

Of the Dalcassian line we find that Cormac Cas, the founder. Genealogy of 
was king of Munster about the year of our Lord 260 ; Aengus San^aS!^ 
Tireach, about the year 290 ; Conall of the Swift Steeds, in 366 ; ?JJ"?SJSrded 
Cairihinn Finn, in 439 ; Aedh Caemh, from 571 to his death in g*®2i*°, 
601; Lorcdn, in 910; Cinneidigh, or Kennedy, the father of ° ^^^ 
Brian Boroimhi, in 954; and Brian himself, uom 975 to the 
year 1002, when he became monarch of all Erinn, and as 
such reigned till his death, at the battle of Clontarf, in 1014. 

The succession to the kingship of Munster was alternate be- 
tween the Eugenians and the Dalcassians ; but the former being 
the most powerful in numbers and in extent of territory, mo- 
nopolized the provincial rule as far as they were able. The 
line of the Dalcassians were, however, always kings or chiefs 
of Thomond in succession, and kings of the province as often 
as they had strength enough to assert their alternate right; and 
it is a fact beyond dispute that the kindred of the late Marquis 
of Thomond hold lands at the present day which have de- 
scended to them, through an unbroken line of ancestry, for 
1600 years. Now the Dalcassians, whose genealogical line I 
have only presented to you as an example, were but one out of 
about forty different great tribes of the line of Eber, which ex- 
isted in Munster in the sixth and seventh centuries ; all and each 
of whom held separate and peculiar territories of their own, which 
were again subdivided ; and in these territories every man of 
the tribe, who could prove his relationship, had a legal share. 
And as the law and the custom were the same throughout all 
Erinn, it follows almost as a matter of necessity that 3ie gene- 
alogies and pedigrees — ^the only proofs of title to the tribe- 
lands — ^must nave been kept with all the jealous care and accu- 
racy we have ascribed to the compilation of records practically 
so important. 

A most curious feature in our ancient national records, in 
connexion with these genealogies, is the information they con- 
tain concerning the manner and time at which several of the 
ancient independent tribes and families lost their inheritance and 



ijicT. x> independence, becoming sometimes mere rent-payers, some- 
_ times servitors in the free lands of their fathers, and at other 

Importance . ,. . ^ ..'... 

of the Gene- timcs Settling as Strangers m other territories and provmces. 
tKfdSft' The laws under which such changes could take place, will of 
^*"- course be explained when the work of the Brehon Law Com- 

mission is completed. Historic facts, illustrative of many of 
them, are recorded in the genealogical tracts, which in this re- 
spect also will be found to contain many important items of 
historical information not entered in any of the annals. 

names first 
about A.D. 

lictween a 
and a 

Previous to the time of the monarch Brian Boroimhi (about 
the year 1000), there was no general system of family names in 
Erinn ; but every man took the name either of his father or his 
grandfather for a surname. Brian, however, established a new 
and most convenient arrangement, namely, that families in fu- 
ture shovdd take permanent names, either those of their imme- 
diate fathers, or of any person more remote in their line of 
pedigree. And thus Muireadhachy the son of Carthach^ took 
the surname of Mac Carthaigh (now Mac Carthy); ^^ Mac' 
being the Gaedhlic for "son". Toirdliealbhaghy or Turloch, the 
grandson of Brian himself, took the surname of O'Brian, or the 
grandson of Brian, "0" being the Gaedhlic for "grandson"; 
Cathbharr, the grandson of Donnell, took the name of O'Donnell ; 
Donnell, the grandson of Niall Glundubhy took the surname 
of O'Neill ; Tadgh, or Teige, the grandson of Conor, took the 
name of O'Conor (of Connacht) ; Donoch, the son oi Murchadh^ 
or Muroch, took the surname of Mac Muroch of Leinster; 
and so as to all the other families throughout the kingdom. 

The genealogists always made a distinction between a genea- 
logy and a pemgree. A Genealogy^ according to them, em- 
braced the descent of a family and its relation to all the other 
families that descended from the same remote parent-stock, and 
who took a distinct tribe name, such as, for instance, the Dal- 
cassians. A Pedigree meant only the running up of the line of 
descent of any one of those famines, through its various genera- 
tions, to the mdividual from whom the name was derived, such 
as the line of O'Brien, MacNamara, O'Quinn, etc., traced up 
again to a more remote ancestor, such as Oilioll Oluim^ without 
any reference to relationship with the other families descended 
from the same remote progenitor. I have given you an ex- 
ample of a Genealogy, — that of the race of Oilioll Oluim. Now, 
the principal races are all traced in the same way in the great 
books of Genealogies. The Pedigrees of the different faimlies 
are afterwards entered, lx»ginning with the individual living at 


the time of the record, and tracing his descent backwards (from lbct. x. 
son to father) up to that ancestor, whoever he was, from whom 
the name of the family was taken, and who had been abready Geriwi?oBiea 
recorded in one of the genealogies as the ancestor of the family. boJuI*'^*^ 
All the Genealogies, as a general rule, are made to begin, as 

irou have already heard, from the beginning of the world, or at 
east, from Noah ; and you are aware, from what I have told 
you in relation to O'Clery's " Succession of the Kings", how the 
line of Milidhj or Milesius, was traced. The great genealogical 
tracts then take up each province separately, and deal with all 
its tribes, one after another, just as the Dalcassians are dealt 
with in the example I have to-day given you. 

The Book of Leinster is, as you know, the second oldest of 
our existing historical MSS., the genealogical tracts in that 
book ha\ang been written into it, I may assert, about a.d. 1130. 
This tract comprises sixty closely-written pages of that cele- 
brated MS. The Book of Ballymote (a.d. 1391) contains the 
same tracts, enlarged and continued. The same tracts again occur, 
with s'till further additions and continuations, in the Book of 
Lecain (a.d. 1416) ; and among the additions in the last named 
book, will be found a genealogy of the Tuatha D6 Danann^ 
the race anterior to the Milesians. I need hardly observe that, 
at the time those various books were compiled, these tracts were 
regarded as of the highest authority, as they have been ever 
since among Irish scholars and historical students; and it is 
more than probable that that in the Book of Leinster was copied 
from the Saltair of Cashel and other cotemporaneous books. 

But the fullest and most perfect of all is the immense Book m«j Firwa' 
of Genealogies, compiled in the years 1650 to 1666 (by being ^JeiSogiea. 
copied from a great number of now lost local records), by that 
Dubhaltach Mac Firbisigli, or Duald Mac Firbis, wnose cha- 
racter and works (including the present volume), as well as 
whose tragical death, I have aheady described to you in a 
former lecture. 

According to the plan I have observed in reference to the 
0*Clerys, I propose to make you acquainted with Mac Firbis 
himself, as well as with his book, and the reason, as well as the 
plan, of its compilation, by reading for you, in translation, as 
Inuch of his introduction as the remainder of our time may 
permit to day. And, I do so the more readily, because no part 
of it has yet been given to the world, and it contains an immense 
quantity of suggestion, of criticism, and of positive information, 
which 1 am particularly well pleased to be able to lay before 
you, upon the foimdation of so venerable and learned an 
authority. [See the original of this Introduction in the Ap- 
pendix, No. LXXXVIIO 


LEcT. yn. Mac Firbis begins with the title of his book, which is expla- 

*, « ^. , natory of its contents, as the title pa^s of books in the seven- 
Mac Firbw ^ Y ^ 11 ^^^ 
Book of teenth century generally were : — 

oeneaiogiefl. 44 ijij^^ kindred and genealo^cal branches of every colony 
that took possession of Erinn trom the present time back up 
to Adam (the Fomorians, the Lochlanns, and the Sax-Normans 
excepted, only as far as they are connected with the histoiy of 
our country), together with the genealogies of the saints, and the 
succession of the kings of Ireland. And, lastly, a table of con- 
tents, in which are arranged, in alphabetical order, the sur- 
names and the noted places which are mentioned in this book ; 
which was compiled oy Dubhaltach Mac Firbisigh of Lecairiy 
in the year 1650". 

The author then continues : — 

" Although the above is the more usual manner of giving 
titles (to books) in these times, yet we shall not depart from the 
paths of our ancestors, the old pleasant Irish custon^ for it is the 
plainest, as follows : — 

" The place, time, author, and cause of writing this book, 
are : Its place is the College of Saint Nicholas, in Gkdway ; its 
time is the time of the religious war between the Cathoucs of 
Ireland and the heretics of Ireland, Scotland, and England, and, 
particularly, the year of the age of Christ, 1650. The author 
of it is Dtibhaltach, the son of GiUa ha M6r Mac Firbmgh^ 
historian, etc., of Lecain Mic Firbisigh^ in Tireragh of me 
Moy ; and the cause of writing the same book is to magnify 
tlie glory of God, and to give knowledge to all men in general. 
"It may happen that some one may be surprised at this 
work, because of the copiousness of the pedigrees that appear 
in it, and of the hundreos of families that are counted in it, up 
to Adam, in the order of their relation to one another. Because 
I myself hear people saying that the pedigrees of the Gaedhils 
cannot be brought thus to their origin. Whatever is their 
reason for saying this, we might give it an answer, if we thought 
it worth while, but that is not our present object, but to show 
the truth, on the authority of ancient writings, of learned elders, 
old saints, and the highest seanachies or historians of Erinn, 
from the beginning of time to this day. This is a thing of 
which there can be no doubt ; for it is a common and true say- 
ing, in the ancient and pure Gaedhlic Books of Erinn, showing 
the classes who preserved their history. Thus do they say: If 
there be any one who shall ask who preserved the history 
\Seanchu8]^ let him know that they were very ancient and 
long lived old men, recording elders of great age, whom God 
permitted to preserve and hand down the history of Erinn, in 


books, in succession, one after another, from the Deluge to the jlect. x. 
time of Saint Patrick (who came in the fourth year of Laegh- ^^ ^^^^^^, 
airi Mac NeilT)^ and Colum CUle, and Comhgau of Benn-chair B^k of 
[Bangor], and Finnen of Clonard, and the other saints of Erinn ; ^®°*^<*8*®»- 
which [history] was written on their knees, in books, and which 
[history] is now on the altars of the saints, in their houses of 
writings [libraries], in the hands of sages and historians, from 
that time for ever. 

" So far doth the foregoinjg say, but it is more at large in the 
Leabhar Gabhala; and that is a Dook that ought to be sufficient 
to confirm this fact. Besides that, hexe, in particular, are the 
names of the authors of the history and the otherpoetry [literary 
productions] of Erinn, who came with the different colonists, 
taken on the authority of very ancient writings, which set them 
down thus: — 

^^ Bacorbladhra was the first teacher of Erinn, and Ollamh 
to Partholtt^. 

" Figma, the poet and historian of the Clanna-Nemheidh. 

^^Fathaehj the poet of the Firbolgs, who related history, 
poetiy, and stories to them. 

" Cairbriy Aoi, and /Rdan, were the poets of the Tuatha D6 
Darumn^ for history, poems, and stories. And besides that, 
the greater part of the nobles (or higher classes^ of the Tuatha 
Di Banann were full of learning and of druioism. 

" The Gaedhils, too, were not a people that were without 
preservers of their lustory in all parts through which they passed : 
because Fenias Farsaidh^ their ancestor, was a prime author in 
all the languages ; and it is not to be wondered at that he should 
know his own history. So it was with Nel, the son of Fenias, 
in Egypt, [who was invited by Pharoah] . So Catcher, the druid, 
in Scythia and in Getulia, and between them (Egypt and Ge- 
tulia), where he foretold that they would come to Erinn. So Mi- 
lesius of Spain, who was named Golam, after going out of Spain 
into Scythoa, and from that to Egjrpt, and parties of his people 
learned the chief arts in it (Egypt) : that is, Seudga, SuirgS, and 
Sobairc4y in the arts ; Mantdn, Falman, Catcher , in druidism ; 
three more of them were just judging judges, that is, Gostin^ 
Amergin,BJid Bonn; Amergin Glunaealihe son ofNiul, Caeham^ 
and Cir the son of Cis, were the three poets of the Milesians ; 
Amergin and Cacham were poets, brehons, historians, and 
story-tellers ; Cir, the son of Cw, was a poet and a story-teller 
[but not a historian] ; Onna was the musician and harper of 
the Milesians, as given in the Book of Invasions, in the poem 
beginning, * The two sons oi Mileadh [Milesius], of honourable 


LECT. X. " The sons of Uaaini Mor were, some of them, full of learn* 
inff, as is evident from Roiqhni Rosgadach, the son of Uqain^^ 
Book of who was the author ot many ancient law maxims. 
Geneaiogiea. u oilamk Fodhla, the king of Erinn, who was so called from 
the extent of his Ollamh learning ; for Eochaidh was his first 
name. It was he that made the first Feis of Tara, which was 
the great convocation of the men of Erinn, and which was con- 
tinued by the kings of Erinn from that down, every third year, 
to preserve the laws and rules, and to puiify the history of 
Erinn, and to write it in the Saltair [or psalter] of Tara, that 
is, the Book of the Ard Righ [chief king or monarch] of Erinn. 

" Would not this alone be sufficient to preserve the history of 
any kingdom, no matter how extensive ? But it is not that they 
were trusting to this alone; for it is not recorded that there 
came any race into Ireland, who had not learned men to pre- 
serve their history. 

" At one time, in the time of Conor Mac Nessa,, there were 
1200 poets in one company; another time 1000; another time 
700, as was the case in the time o£ Aedh Mac Ainmiri [Hugh, 
the son of Ainmiri] and Colum CilU; and besides, in every 
time, between these periods, Erinn always thought that she had 
more of learned men in her than she wanted ; so that, from their 
numbers and their pressure [that is, the tax their support made 
necessary upon the people], it was attempted to banisn them out 
of Erinn on three different occasions, xmtil they were detained by 
the Ultonians for hospitality sake. This is evident in the Amhra 
Cholum ChilUy who \Colum Cillf\ was the last that kept them 
in Ireland ; and Colum CilU distributed a poet to every territory, 
and a poet to every king, in order to lighten the burden on tne 
people in general ; so that there were people in their following 
'tliat is, keeping up the succession of the ancient professors of 
Doetry], contemporary with every generation, to preserve the his- 
tory and events of the country at this time. Not these alone, 
but the kings and saints, and churches of Erinn, as I have already 
stated, preserved the history in like manner. 

^^ FerceirtnS, the poet; Seancha, the son o£Ailell; Neidd^ the 
son oiAdhna; and Adhna himself, the son of Uiiher; Morann^ 
son oi Maon; Athaime, the poet; Cormac Ua Cuinn [grandson 
of Conn], Chief King of Erinn ; Cormac Mac Cuilennaifij King 
of Munster; Flann Mainistreach; Eochaidh O'Flinn; GUla 
na Naernh ODuinn^ etc. Why should I be enumerating them, 
for they cannot be counted witnout writing a large book of their 
names, and not to give but the titles of the tracts, alone, which 
they wrote, as we have done before now. However, these men 
preserved the history until latter times, say about 600 or 600 


years ^o, that is, to the time of Brian BoroimM. About that lect. x. 
time was settled the greater number of the family names of ^^ ^^^^^, 
Erinn ; and certain families chose or were ordered to be pro- Book of 
fessors of history and other arts at that time, some of them be- ^®° °^®** 
fore, and some after that time. So that they remain in the 
countries of Erinn, with the chiefs all round, for the purpose of 
writing their genealogies, and history, and annals ; and to com- 
pose noble poems on these histories, also ; and also to preserve 
and to teach every instruction that is difficult or obscure in 
Gaedhlic, that is, to teach the reading of the ancient writings. 

** Here follow the names of a number of these historians, 
and the territories, and the noble families for whom they 
speak in those latter times. The O'Mulchonries, with the 
Siol Murray (O'Connors) round Cruachain ; another portion of 
them in Tnomond ; another portion in Leinster ; and another 

¥)rtio]i of them in Annally (Longford, OTerrall's country), 
he Clann Firbisighy in Lower Connacht, and in iJA Fiachrach 
Moy; and in Ibh Amhalghaidh; and in Cearra (county Sligo), 
and Ibh Fiachrach Aidhne, and in Eachtga; and with the race 
of CoUa Uais (the Mac Donnclls of Antrim) ; the O'Duigenans, 
with the Clann Maolruanaidh (Mac Dermotts, Mac Donachs, 
etc.^ ; and with the Conmaicne Maigh rein. The O'Cumins, 
with the O'Ruarcs, etc.; the O'Dugans, with the O'Kellys of 
Ibh Main^; the O'Clerys and the O'Cananns, with the Cinel 
Conaill in Donegall ; the O'Luinins, in Fermanagh ; the O'Cler- 
cins, with the Cinkl Eoghain (Tyrone) ; the O'Duinins, chiefly 
in Mimster, i. «., with the race of Eoghan Mor (the McCarthys, 
etc.^ ; the Ma^ an Ghobhan (a name now Anglicised " Smith"), 
with the O'Kennedys of Ormond; the O'Riordans, with the 
O'Carrolls and others, of Ely ; the Mac Curtins and Mac Bro- 
dies, in Thomond; the Mac-Gilli-Kellys, in west Connacht, 
with the OTlaherties, etc. And so there were other families in 
Lreland of the same profession ; and it was obligatory on every 
one of them who followed it, to purify the profession [i.e., to 
drive out of it every improprietyj. 

" Along with these, the Judges of Banblia used to be in 
like manner preserving the history ; for a man could not be a 
Judge without being an historian ; and he is not an historian 
without being a Judge in the Brethibh NimJiedhj that is the 
last Books of the works [study] of the Seanchaidhe [Seanchies] 
or historians, and of the Judges themselves 

" According to these truthful words, we believe that hence- 
forth no wise person will be found who will not acknowledge 
that it is feasible to bring the genealogies of the Graedhils to 
their origin, to Noah and to Adam; and if he does not believe 


UBCT. X. that, may he not believe that he himself is the son of his own 
Mae nrbis' ^*^®^* ^^^ there is no error in the genealogical history, but 
Book of as it was left &om father to son in succession, one after another. 
Genealogies. « gurely Gveij oue belicves the Divine Scriptures, which give 
a similar genealogy to the men of the world, firom Adam down 
to Noah ; and the genealogy of Christ and of the holy fathers, 
as may be seen in the Cnurch [writings]. Let him believe 
this, or let him deny God. And if he does believe this, why 
should he not believe another history, of which there has been 
truthful preservation, like the history of Erinn ? I say truthful 
preservation, for it is not only that they [the preservers of it] 
were very numerous, as we said, preserving the same, but 
there was an order and a law with them and upon them, out of 
which they could not, without great injury, tell lies or false- 
hoods, as may be seen in the Books of Feneckaa [Law] of 
Fodhla [Erinn], and in the degrees of the poets themselves, 
their order, and their laws. For there was not in Erinn ^imtil 
the coimtry was confounded) a laity [of a territory] , nor a clergy 
of a churcn, on whom there was not some particidar order [lay 
or ecclesiastical], which are called Gradha [or Degrees]. And 
it was obligatory on them to maintain the laws of these degrees, 
under the pain or penalty of fine, and the loss of their dignity 
[and privileges], as we have written in our Fenechas [Law J 
Vocabulary, wmch speaks at length of these laws, and of the 
laws of the Graedhils m general. 

" The historians of Erinn, in the ancient times, will scarcely 
be distinguished from the Fdnigh, [or story-tellers,] and those 
who are called Aos ddna [or poets] at this day ; for it was at 
one school often that they were educated, all the learned of Erinn. 
And the way that they were divided was into seven degrees : 
Ollamh^ Anrad, Cli, Cana, Dos, Maefuirmidy Fodog, were the 
names of the seven degrees, like the ecclesiastical degrees, such 
as priest, deacon, sub-deacon, etc. The Order of Poets, was, 
among its other laws, obliged to be pure and free from theft 
and killing, and of satirizing, and of adultery, and of every 
thing that would be a reproach to their learning, as it is found 
in this rann (or verse) : — 

" Purity of hand, bright without wounding, 
Purity of mouth, without poisonous satire, 
Purity of learning, without reproach, 
Purity of * husbandship' [or marriage], 

" Any Seanchaidhe, then, whether an Ollamh, an Anrad, or 
of any other decree of them, who did not preserve these puri- 
ties, lost half his income and his dignity, according to law, 


and was subject to heavy penalties beside ; therefore, it is not to lect. x . 
be supposed that there is in the world a person who would not ^^ ^^^^^, • 
prefer to tell the truth, if he had no other reason than the fear Book of 
of God and the loss of his dignity and his income ; and it is not ^ 

becoming to charge partiality upon these selected historians of 
the nation. However, if imworthy people wrote falsehood, 
end charged it to an historian, it mignt become a reproach to 
the order of historians, if they were not guarded, and did not 
look for it, to see whether it was in their prime books of 
authority that those writers obtained their knowledge. And 
that is what is proper to be done by every one, bom the lay 
scholar and the professional historian; every thing of whicn 
they have a suspicion, to look for it, and if they do not find it 
confirmed in good books, to note down its doubtfulness along 
with it, as I myself do to certain races hereafter in this book : 
and it is thus that the historians are freed from the errors of 
other parties, should these be cast upon them, which God 

. " The historians were so anxious and ardent to preserve the 
history of Erinn, that the descriptions of the nobleness and dig- 
nified manners of the people, which they have left us, however 
copious they may be, should not be wondered at; for they did 
not refi^in fix)m writing even of the undignified artizans, and of 
the professors of the healing and building arts of the ancient 
times, — as shall be shown below, to show the fidelity of the his- 
torians and the error of those who make such assertions as [for 
instance] that there were no stone buildings in Erinn until the 
coming of the Danes and Anglo-Normans mto it. 

" Thus saith an ancient authority : The first doctor, the first 
builder, and the first fisherman, that were ever in Erinn, were : — 

" 'Copa, for the healing of the sick. 
In his time was all-powerful ; 
And Imasad, the cunning builder. 
And Laighni, the fisherman. 

" J5afta,the female physician who accompanied the lady Ceasair 
into Erinn, was the second doctor ; Slanga, the son o{ Partholany 
was the third doctor that came into Erinn /with Partholan) ; and 
Fergna, the grandson of Criihinbel^ was me fourth doctor who 
came into Ennn (with Nemed). The doctors of the Firboigs 
were, Dubhda Dubhlosach^ Codan Corinchisnech, and Fingin 
Fmoedha, MainS, the son of Gressach, ssxAAongus Antemmach. 
The doctors of the Ttmtha Di Danann were, DtanceaJit^ Air-- 
medhf Miach, etc. 

" Of ancient builders, the following are the names of a few, who 


LTOT. X. were styled the builders of the chief stone edifices (of the world) : 
" Ailian was Solomon's stone-builder ; Cabur was the stone- 
Book of builder of Tara ; Bamab was the stone-builder of Jerico ; Bacus 
Genealogies. ^^ ^.j^^ rath-builder of Nimrod; Cidoin, or Cidoim, was Curoi 
(Mac Dairia) stone-builder ; Cir was the stone-builder of Rome ; 
Arond was the stone-builder of Jerusalem ; Oilen was the stone- 
builder of Constantinople ; Bole, the son of Blar, was the rath- 
builder of Cruachain; GroU, of Clochar, was stone-builder to 
Nadfraich [king of Munster at the close of the fourth century] ; 
Casruba was the stone-builder o£ Ailiac [^Ailinnf'] ; Ring{n^ or 
JRi^rinj and Gahhlan^ the son of Ua Gairbh, were the stone- 
builders oiAileach; TroighUaihan was the rath-builder of Tara ; 
Bainchi^ or Bainchni^ the son of Dobru, was the rath-builder of 
Emania ; Balur, the son of Buanlamh, was the builder of Rath 
BreisS; Cricil, the son of Duhhchruit^ was the builder of the 
Rath of Ailinn. 

[This list of names is repeated here in verse by Donnell, the 
son o£ Flannacan, king oi' Fer-li (?), about the j^ear 1000]. 

" We could find a countless number of the ancient edifices of 
Erinn to name besides these above, and the builders who 
erected them, and the kings and noble chiefs for whom they 
were built, but that they would be too tedious to mention here. 
Look at the Book of Conquests if you wish to discover them ; 
and we have evidence of their having been built like the edifices 
of other kingdoms of the times in which they were built ; — and 
why should they not? for there came no colony into Erinn but 
from the eastern world, as from Spain, etc. ; and it would be 
strange if such deficiency of intellect should mark the parties 
who came into Ireland, smce they had the courage to seek and 
take the country, as that they should not have the sense to form 
their residences and dwellings after the manner of the countries 
from which they originally went forth, or through which they 
travelled ; for it is not possible that they were not acquainted 
with the style of buildings of the greater part of Europe, aft-er 
having passed through such travels as they did — firom Scythia, 
from Egypt, from Greece and Athens, from Felesdine [sic; qu. 
for Palestine?] from Spain, etc., into Erinn. 

" And if those colonists of ancient Erinn erected buildings 
in the country similar to those of the countries through which 
they came, as it is likely they did, what is the reason that the 
fact is doubted? There is no reason, but because there are not 
lime-built walls standing in the places where they were erected, 
fifteen hundred, two thousand, or three thousand years ago; 
when it is no wonder that there are not, since, in much shorter 
spaces of time than these, the land grows over buildings, when 


once they are broken down, or fall of their own accord, from lect. x. 

old ^e. ^ ^ - . T 1 i/» .1.11 . MicFlrbls' 

" In prooi of this, 1 have myseit seen, within the last sixteen Book of 
years, lofty lime-built castles, built of lime-stone ; and at this day, ^^^^^^^^^lea. 
after they have fallen, there remains nothing of them but an 
earthen mound to mark their sites, nor could even the anti- 
quarians earily discover that any edifices had ever stood there 
at alL 

" Compare these to the buildings which were erected hun- 
dreds and thousands of years ago, one with another ; and it is 
no wonder, should this be done, except for the superiority of 
the ancient building over the modem, that not a stone, nor an 
elevation of the ground should mark their situation. Such, 
however, is not the case, for, such is the stabiUty of the old build- 
ings, that there are immense royal raths [or palaces] and forts 
{JLios] throughout Erinn, in wnich there are numerous hewn 
and pohshed stones, and cellars and apartments under ground, 
within their walls ; such as there are in Rath Maoilcatha, in 
Castle Conor, and in Bally O'Dowda, in Tireragh, on the banks 
of the Moy, There are nine smooth stone cellars under the 
walls of this rath ; and I have been inside it, and I think it is 
one of the oldest raths in Erinn ; and its walls are of the height 
of a good cow-keep still. I leave this, however, and many 
other things of the kind, to the learned to discuss, and I shall 
return to my first intention, namely, the defence of the fidelity 
of our history, to which the ignorant do an additional injustice, 
by saying that it carries [the genealogies of all] the men of 
Erinn up to the sons of Milesius. 

" They will acknowledge their own falsehood in this matter, if 
they will but see the number of alien races which are given in 
this book alone, which are not carried up to the sons of Mile- 
sius, as may be seen in several places in the body of the book, 
and let them compare them with one another. 

" Here, too, is the distinction which the profoimd historians \ 

draw between the three different races which are in Erinn — 
that is, between the descendants of the Firbolgs, Fir Domh- 
nanus and Gailiuns, and the Tuatka Di Danann, and the 
^ "Every one who is white [of skin], brown [of hair], bold, 
honourable, daring, prosperous, bountiful in the bestowal of 
property, wealth, and rings, and who is not afraid of battle or 
combat ; they are the descendants of the sons of Milesius, in 

" Every one who is fair-haired, vengeful, large ; and every 
plunderer; every musical person; the professors of musical and 


LECT. X. entertaining performances ; who are adepts in all Druidical and 
„ _, ^, , maffical arts ; they are the descendants of the Ttuitha Di 
Book of JJanann^ in Jbinnn. 

Genealogies. 4, Eveiy One who is black-haired, who is a tattler, guileiul, 
I tale-telling, noisy, contemptible ; every wretched, mean, stroll- 

ing, unsteady, narsh, and inhospitable person; every slave, 
every mean thief, every churl, every one who loves not to listen 
to music and entertainment, the disturbers of every council and 
every assembly, and the promoters of discord among people, 
these are the descendants of the Firbolgs, of the Gailiuns^ of 
Liogaimi^ and of the Fir Domhnanns, in Erinn. But, however, 
the descendants of the Firbolgs are the most nimierous of all these. 
[This is summed up in verse here, but we pass it for the 

" This is taken fix)m an old book. However, that it is possible 
to identify a race by their personal appearance and their dis- 
positions 1 do not take upon myself positively to say ; though it 
may have been true in tne ancient times, until the races subse- 
quently became repeatedly intermixed. For we daily see, in our 
own time, and we oflen hear it from our old people, a similitude 
of people, a similitude of form, character, and names, in some 
families in Erinn, with others ; and not only is this so, but it is 
said that the people of every country have a resemblance to 
each other, and that they all have some one peculiar character- 
istic by which they are known, as may be understood from this 
poem: — 

" For building, the noble Jews are found. 
And for truly fierce envy ; 
For size, the guileless Armenians, 
And for firmness, the Saracens ; 
For acuteness and valour, the Greeks ; 
For excessive pride, the Romans ; 
For dullness, tine creeping Saxons ; 
For haughtiness, the Spaniards ; 
For covetousness and revenge, the French ; 
And for anger, the true Britons. — 
Such is the true knowledge of the trees. — 
For gluttony, the Danes, and for commerce ; 
For high spirit the Picts are not unknown ; 
And for beauty and amourousness, the Gaedhils ; — 
As Giolla-na-naemh says in verse, 
A fair and pleasing composition. 

" We believe that it is more likely to find the resemblance in 
Erinn (than anywhere else), because there is a law in the 


Seanchas Mor, ordered by St. Patrick, which says, that if it uect. x. 
should happen that a woman knew two men, at the time of her j^^^ p.^^^j^, 
conception, — so that she could not know which of them was the Book of 
father of the child begotten at that time, — the law says, if the ^®°'*'**«'^*- 
child cannot be aflSliated on the true father by any otlier mode, 
that he ifl to be borne with for three years, until he shall be- 
tray family likeness, family voice, and family disposition ; and 
the woman was thus assisted to identify him as the father to 
whom these characteristics bore the closest resemblance ; as it is 
supposed that it is to him whom he the more resembles he 
belongs. And as this has been laid down in St. Patrick's law, 
it is no wonder that it should be a remarkable distinction of 
some families more than others. And though it may not be 
found true in all cases, there is nothing inconsistent with reason 
in it. And, further, it is an argument against the people who 
say that there is no family in this country which tne genealo- 
^ts do not trace up to the sons of Milesius. Ajid notwithstand- 
mg this, even though it were so, it would be no wonder ; for, if 
a man will look at the sons of Milesius, and the great families 
that sprung from them in Erinn and in Scotland, and how few 
of them exist at this day, he will not wonder that people inferior 
to them, who had been a long time under them, should not ex- 
ist; for it is the custom of the nobles, when their own children 
and families multiply, to suppress, blight, and exterminate their 
fanners and followers. 

" Examine Erinn and the whole world, and there is no end 
to the number of examples of this kind to be found ; so that it 
would be no wonder that the number of genealogies which are 
in Erinn at this day were carried up to Milesius. 

" It having been the custom of the genealogists to give dis- 
tinct names of books according to their variety, to the [tracts 
which relate to the] Gaedhils, who alone were the particular 
objects of their care ; such as the Book of Connacht, the Book 
of Ulster, the Book of Leinster, and the Book of Munster, I 
shall, in like manner, divide and classify this book. I will di- 
vide it into different books, according to the number of the con- 
quests of Erinn before the Gaedhils, and according to the number 
of the three sons of Milesius of Spain, who took the sovereignty 
of Erinn; a book for the saints, and a book for the Fomonans, 
Lochlanns or Danes, and the Normans, and Anglo-Normans, 
old and new, after them. 

" I shall devote the first book to Partkolan, who first took 
po^ession of Erinn after the Deluge, devoting the beginning 
of it to the coming of the lady Ceasair, as they are not wortli 


LECT. X. dividing ; the second, to Nemed ; the third, to the Firbolffs ; 

Mac Firbia' *^® fourth, to the Tuatha D6 Danann; the fifth, to the Guedhils, 

Book of and all the sons of Milesius, though it is only of the race of 

Geneaiogiea. jjj.gjQQQ \^ treats, till they are finished ; and this book is larger 

than seven books of the old division, because it contains more 

than they did, and it is more copious than ever it [that is, than 

ever this branch of the Gaedhlic genealogies] was before. The 

sixth book, to the race of /r, and the Dal Flatach; these are 

also of the race of Eremon, and occupants of the same coimtry 

of Ulster for a long time. The seventh book, to the race of 

Eber^ and the descendants of Lughaidh, the son of Ith; for 

Munster is the original country of both. The eighth book, to 

the saints of Erinn. The ninth and last book, to the Fomo- 

rians, the Lochlanns, and the Normans. 

"As to the arrangement of our book — O reader! if you 
are not pleased with placing the younger before the elder, I do 
not deny that you will often find it so in it, from Fenias Far- 
aaidh down. Behold the sons of Fenias himself: that Niuly the 
younger, has been from the beginning spoken of with pre- 
ference by the historians, while Naerihal^ the elder, is httle 
spoken of. 

" Eremon, too, the son of Milesius, is placed in it before the 
rest of the sons of Milesius, who were older than him ; and 
there is no computing the number of such cases contained in it, 
down to the latter families which we have at this day. 

" See how the historians of Munster place the Mac Carthys 
before the O'Sullivans, who are their seniors in descent, and 
the O'Briens before their seniors the Mac Mahons. 

" Other books of the northern half of Erinn, as well as 
Doctor Keting, place Niall of the Nine Hostages, and his de- 
scendants, thougn junior, before the rest of his brothers, his 

" See how Dtiach Galach^ the yoimgest son of Brian, took 
precedence of the other thrce-and-twenty sons, his seniors. 

" The historians of the Siol Muiredhaigh, place the O'Conors 
(of Connacht) before their seniors. 

" The Ulidians place Mac Aonghusa (or Magenis), of the 
race of Conall Cearnachj before the descendants of Conor, the 
king, because ConaU's descendants were the more distinguished ; 
and it was the same as regarded many other families, which it 
would be tedious to enumerate. And if these are allowed to 
be proper, why not I have a right to follow the same course ? 

"And further, should any one suppose that this is an ar- 
bitrary proceeding, I can assure him it is not ; and that very 
often it cannot be avoided, where the descent of many tribes 


and races has become complicated ; so that, in order to separate lect.x 
them, it is often found necessary to pass over the senior, and ^^ ^^^^^, 
write of the junior first, and then to return to the senior again. Book of 

" Understand, moreover, O reader ! that it was a law in ®®"®*^*^k*®* 
Erinn to raise the junior sometimes to the chiefship, in prefer- 
ence to the senior, as the following Rule of Law, taken from 
the Seanchas M6r^ and from the Fenechas in common, says : 
* The senior to the tribe, the powerful to the chiefship, the wise / 
to the Church'. That is, the senior person of the tribe is to be 
put at the head of that tribe or family, alone ; the man who has 
most supporters and power, if he be equally noble with his 
senior, to be placed in the chiefship or lordship ; and the wisest 
man to be raised to the supreme rule of the Church. 

" However, if the senior be the more wealthy and powerful, 
or if there be no junior of more wealth and power than him, 
according to the law, then he takes the chiefship. This, how- 
ever, is the same as what has been abeady said, 

" There is a common verse, which is repeated, to prove that 
it is lawful that an eligible junior ought to be elevated to the 
sovereignty, in preference to any number of his seniors, who 
were deficient in the lawful requirements. 

* Though there be nine in the line. 
Between a good son and the sovereignty, 
It is the right and proper rule 
That he be forthwith inaugurated*. 

** And it is, therefore, sometimes proper that the junior be 
elevated to the sovereignty. Why, then, if one should choose it, 
that he should not be placed at the beginning of a book ? And, 
besides, it would be an unbecoming arrangement to place the 
most important of the guests at the foot of the table, wliile all 
the rest, even though they were his elder brothers, were placed 
at the head, when they are not kings. 

" See, too, how the ignoble of descent are now placed in high 
positions in Erinn, in preference to the nobles, because they 
possess worldly wealth, which is more to be wondered at than 
the above ; and it is a far greater insult to the native nobles of 
Erinn than any arrangement of their genealogies which we may 
happen to make, particularly as we receive no remuneration 
from any one of them. I pray them, therefore, to excuse their 
devoted servant Dabhaltaeh Mac FirbisighP. 

I have stated, in a former lecture, that the autograph of Mac 
FirhUigKs Book, which is written on paper, is in the possession 
of the Earl of Broden, and that I made a fac-simile copy of it 

15 b 


LECT. X. for the Royal Iriflh Academy, in the year 1836. I have only 

to add, as before, with respect to the other books, a calculation 

Bwk of of the extent of the Graedhhc text of this book, estimated, as before, 

G«aeaio£iefl. ^ reference to the size of the pages of O'Donovan's Annals of 

the Four Masters, supposing the Irish text alone were printed 

at fiill length, that it would make about 1300 pages. 

You will now, I think, be able to comprehend why it is that 
I have attached so much importance to the genealogical tracts ; 
and you, perhaps, already feel with me that by the tuture histo- 
rian these great records will not be found less valuable than any 
of the ann^ themselves, to the accuracy of which they supply 
a check so invaluable in the comparison of historical materials. 
The last, the most perfect, and the greatest of these works is Mac 
Firbis's vast collection. 

Mac Firbis found the great lines and general ramifications of 
the Guedhlic genealogies, already brought down, in the Books of 
Leinster, Ballymote, and Lecan, to the be^nning of the fifteenth 
century. These he continued down to his own time, from a.d. 
1650 to 1666, with most important additions, collected evi- 
dently firom various local records and private family documents, 
as well as fix>m the State Papers in the public offices in Dublin, 
to which he seems to have had access, probably through the in- 
fluence of Sir James Ware. 

His book is, perhaps, the greatest national genealogical com- 

Silation in the world ; and when we remember his great age at 
le time of its compilation, and that he neither received nor ex- 
pected reward from any one, — ^that he wrote his book (as he 
himself sajrs), simply for the enlightenment of his countrymen, 
the honour of his country, and me glory of God, — ^we cannot 
but feel admiration for his enthusiasm and piety, and venera- 
tion for the man who determined to close his life by bequeath- 
ing this precious legacy to his native land. 


CDelir«redJvn« 19, lUA.] 

Of the existing pieces of detailed History in the Gaedhlic Language. The History 
of the Ori^ of the Boromean Tribute. The Histqnr of the Wars of the 
Banes and the Gaedhils. The History of the Wars of Thomond. The "Book 
of Munster^. Of the Historic Tales appointed to be recited by the Poets and 
OUamhs. Of the legal education of the OUamh, The Histobic Taubs, 
with Examples. 1. Of the Catha, or Battles. The ** Battle of Mdgh Tui- 
readhr. The ** Battle of Mdgh T&ireadk of the Fomorians". 

In the previous part of this course, we have already disposed of 
the senes of the Annals, the foundation of our yet unwritten 
history. You have also heard something^ of the general contents 
of the great books of Gaedhlic manuscripts still preserved, and 
I have endeavoured to give you some idea of the extent of these 
great remaiQS of our ancient literature. Before I proceed to 
pve an account of the compositions I have termed Historic 
Tales, in which so vast a body of information is to be found as 
to the details of isolated occmrences, and the life and exploits 
of particular historic personages, I have still to introduce to 
your notice a few works of a yet more important character. 
When I explained to you the nature of the meagre entries of 
which the earlier Annals for the most part consist, I told you 
that the intention of their compilers was confined to a record of 
mere dates of the more remarkable historical events, and of the 
succession and deaths of the Chiefs, Kings, Bishops, and Saints. 
They omitted the details of the events thus recorded, and of the 
lives of the sages and rulers of Erinn in these general annals, 
because such details formed the subject of compositions of an- 
other kind. There were many extensive local histories regu- 
larly kept, and many enlarged accounts of important historical 
events, which filled up what was wanted in the general annals. 
Of those systematic historical compositions, embracing accounts 
of events extendiog over a considerable number of years or ge- 
nerations, many are known to have existed, but a few only have 
come down to us. These few are, however, tracts so much 
larger in extent, and so much more ambitious in their aim, than 
the pieces I have classed under the name of Historic Tales, that 
they demand our notice in somewhat greater detail. And as 
they rank in importance next to the Annals and the great Books 


LECT. XI. of Grenealogy themselves, it is to these pieces that I have now 

Of the *^ direct your attention. These larger tracts, then, of which I 

exutiDg old am about to speak, are those which may be distinguished from 

torte?^in the ^^ Smaller picccs, recording only isolated events, exploits, and 

£i^ a"o ta**l^> in so far as they form connected narratives of the history 

of the whole country, or of some large portion of it, throughout 

a series of years. They may, therefore, be considered as complete 

pieces of history so far as they go, and were, no doubt, intended 

to form a portion of the full and complete history of the country, 

of which the Annals embrace but the meagre outline. 

2??h?(5i^-'^ Th® fi^*' ^f *^ ^^^^ ^^ pieces to which I shall call your at- 
loni OF THE tention, is one covering a considerable space of time, and chiefly, 
trSSk?" if not entirely, within the acknowledged historic period. It is 
the remarkable history which gives an account of the Origin of 
the BoROMEAN Tribute, so long the source of such fierce in- 
ternal warfare among the princes of Erinn ; and which details 
the chief contests, battles, and social broils to which that tribute 
gave rise, from the period of its imposition in the first century, 
to its final remission in the seventh. 

About the middle of the first century, the mere rent-payers 
and unprivileged classes of Erinn, the Aitheach Tuatha (a word 
incorrectly Anglicised " Attacots"^, rose up against their lords, 
and by a sudden rebellion succeeded in overthrowing their power, 
and even in destroying the chief part of the nobility, together 
with the monarch FiacJia, in whose stead they placed their own 
leader, Cairhri Cinn-Cait [Carbry Cat-head], on the throne. 
CairbrS reigned five years, and was succeed.ed by Elim Mac 
Conrach^ one of the Rudrician race. This Elim reigned over 
Erinn for twenty years, after which he was at last slain at the 
battle of Acaill (a place now known as the hill of Skreen, near 
Tara) by Tuathal Teachtniar, son of the former or legitimate 
monarch Fiaclia. Ttiathal assumed the sovereignty with the 
hearty good will of the majority of the people, who were tired 
out by the inability of the usurping ruler to govern the nation 
in peace and order. He immediately set about consolidating his 

S)owcr, by reducing to obedience all such chiefs as remained still 
avourable to the revolutionary cause; and, having fully suc- 
ceeded in accomplishing this work, he formally received at last 
the solemn allegiance of his subjects, and sat down in fiill power 
and honour in the palace of the kings at Tara. 

Tuathal had, at this time, two beautiful marriageable daugh- 
ters, named Fithir and Dairine, Eochaidh A incheantiy the kmg 
of Leinster, sought and obtained the hand of the younger 
daughter Dairiniy and, after their nuptials, carried her home to 


his palace at Naas, in Leinster. Some time afterwards his peo- lkct. n . 
pie persuaded him that he had made a bad selection, and that ^^ Hirtorr 
the elder was the better of the two sisters, upon which Eochaidh of the oe- 
resolved by a stratagem to obtain the other daughter too. For SSrom^eIS" 
this purpose, he shut up his young queen in a secret chamber of ''^**""*- 
his palace, at the same time giving out that she was dead ; after 
which he repaired to Tara, told the monarch Tuathal that 
Dairini was dead, and expressed his great anxiety to continue 
the alliance by espousing the other daughter. To this Ttmthal 
gave his consent, and Eochaidh returned again to his own court 
with a new bride. 

After some time the injured lady, DairinS, contrived to 
make her escape from her confinement, and quite unexpectedly 
made her appearance in the presence of her faithless husband 
and his new wife. The deceived sister, on seeing her alive 
and well, for the first time knew how falsely both had been 
dealt with, and, struck with horror, disgust, and shame, fell 
dead on the spot. Dairini was no less affected by the treachery 
of her husband and the death of her sister ; she returned to her 
solitary chamber, and in a short time died of a broken heart. 

The monarch Tuathal having heard of the insult put upon 
his two daughters, and their untimely death, forthwith raised a 
powerful force, marched into Leinster, burned and ravaged the 
whole province to its uttermost boundaries, and then compelled 
the king and his people to bind themselves and their descendants 
for ever to the payment of a triennial tribute to the monarch 
of Erinn. This tribute he fixed to consist of five thousand 
ounces of silver, five thousand cloaks, five thousand fat cows, 
five thousand fat hoffs, five thousand fat wethers, and five thou- 
sand large vessels of brass or bronze. 

This was what was called the " Boromean Tribute" ; as it 
was named from the great number of cows paid in it, — ho being 
the Gkiedhlic for a cow. 

The levying of this degrading and oppressive tribute by the 
successive monarchs of Erinn, was the cause of periodical san- 
guinary conflicts, from TuathaVs time down to the reign of 
finnachta the Festive, who, about the year 680, abolished it, 
at the persuasion of St. Moling of Tigh Moling (now St. Mul- 
len's, in the county of Ctfflow), though against the will of St. 
Adamnan, who was then the mend and confessor of the mo- 
narch. The tribute was, however, revived and again levied by 
Brian, the son of Cinneidiahy at the beginning of the eleventh 
century, as a punishment lor the adherence of Leinster to the 
Danish cause : and it was from this circumstance that he ob- 
tained the surname of BoroimhL 


LECT. XI. Of the tract devoted to the history of this tribute we have a 
The Htoto ™^* Valuable copy in the Book of JLecain, in the library of the 
of the Ob- Royal Iriflh Acaaemy ; but we have a still more valuable copy, 
iSromeIs" because much older, in the Book of Leinster, a manuscript of 
TwBLTE. ^}jg middle of the twelfth century, preserved in the Library of 
Trinity College, Dublin. 

The most unportant of the events recorded in the History of 
the Boromean Tribute, because hj far the most detailed, is the 
battle of Dun Bolg^ near Bealach Conglais [now Baltinglass], 
in the county of Wicklow. This battle was fought in the 
year 594, between the monarch of Erinn, Aedh [Hugh], the 
son of Ainmirij and the celebrated Bran Duohj King of 
Leinster, in which the monarch was slain, and his forces 
routed and slaughtered. 

The History '^^ ^^^^ gTcat cpoch of OUT history has been described in 
OK TH ^'*^"* another similar piece. I allude to that long period, extending 
Dawks ovcr moTc than two himdred years, during which the Danish 
gakdhi"i1 and other Scandinavian hordes continued to pour an almost in- 
cessant stream of death and destruction on the country. Of the 
history of this dreadful warfare we have a very ample account, 
preserved in various contemporary poems ana minor pieces of 

5 rose ; but the most valuable, because the most complete and 
ctailed, account of it remaining, is tliat contained in the tract 
specially compiled under the name of Cogadh Gall re Gaedhil, 
or the Wars of the Danes with the Gaedhils. 

Of this tract I had the good fortune some sixteen years ago 
to discover an ancient, but much soiled and imperfect copy, m 
the library of Trinity College ; and this manuscript, witn the 
permission of the College Board, I cleaned and copied. On the 
discovery of the Brussels Collection of Irish MSS. in 1846, it 
was found to contain a perfect copy of this tract, in the hand- 
writing of the friar Michael O'Clery. This book was borrowed 
by Dr. Todd in 1852, and I made a fair transcript of it for the 
College library, thus securing to an Irish institution, where it 
might be easily consulted, a full and perfect copy. The ancient 
fragment must be nearly as old as the chief events towards the 
conclusion of the war, or the time of the decisive battle of Clon- 
tarf ; and, as the O'Clery manuscript was not made out from this, 
we have the advantage of two independent copies of authority so 
far; and this, I need not tell you, is no small advantage in the 
case of documents which must have passed through so many 
successive transcriptions in successive ages, as most of our cele- 
brated pieces have done. 

Of the antiquity of the original composition of the tract, and 


of its authenticity, we have most important evidence in the i^cr. xi. 
fact, that a fragment (unfortunately the first folio only) remains ^ „, ^ 

1 T\ 1 p T • ml • /»"»•/» ' n "*® History 

in the l>ook oi Lcinster. ihe existence oi this iragment is of of the 
double importance. Firstly, because the Book of Leinster, rat^DA»E8 
having been compiled between the years 1120 and 1150, at a 5i^"2JJ^. 
time that men were living whose grandfathers remembered the 
battle of Clontarf, this tract must have been at that period re- 
cognized as an authentic and veritable narrative, and exten- 
sively known, else it could scarcely find a place in such a com- 
pilation. And secondly, the fact of this tract containing a great 
amount of detail, of what must have been at this period very 
distastefid to the Leinster men, it is but reasonable to believe 
that neither exaggerration nor falsehood would have been al- 
lowed to form part of so great a provincial compilation. 

This, to be sure, is arguing in the absence of the now lost 
copy ; but any one acquamted with our ancient books, will be 
struck with tne remarkable agreement which characterizes the 
record of the same events in books of different and often hostile 
provinces, even when the writer is recording the defeat, and 
periiaps disgrace, of the people of his own territory or province. 

This book is now in course of publication, as one of the series 
of Chronicles on the History of Great Britain and Ireland, under 
the superintendance of the Master of the Rolls, in England. It 
is to be edited, with a Translation, Notes, and Introduction, by 
the Rev. Dr. Todd, S.F.T.C.D. 

The next great piece of history that I have to call your attention The History 
to, in continuation of the historical chain, is one which, though ^am ow 
but of local name and importance, still must have had (as indeed tho>«o^»>- 
it is well known to have had) a considerable influence in stimu- 
lating the fierce opposition which the Anglo-Norman invaders 
met with, in the south and west of Ireland, for near two hundred 
years after their first disastrous descent upon this country. 

The tract I allude to is commonly called the Wars of Tho- 
MOND; and up to the present time it is, I am sorry to say, 
better known by name than by examination. It was compiled 
in the year 1459, by John, the son of Rory Mao Craitk, a 
member of a learned family of that name, which gave many poets 
and historians to the Dalcassian families of Clare, and many learned 
ecclesiastics to the Catholic Church, — down to the time of the 
wretched Maelrmdri [or Miler] Mac Grath, who, from being a 
pious friar of the Franciscan order, became (after some smaller 
preferments) the first Protestant Archbishop of Cashel, at the 
close of Queen EUzabcth's reign. It professes to have been com- 
piled from various documents belongmg to the families of men 


LECT. XI. who took an active and prominent part in the stirring scenes of 

which it is the record, 
of tiie " ^ The following is the explanatory title-page, prefixed to a 
THcmosD. fi^® paper copy of this valuable tract, now preserved in the 
library of the Dublin University : — 

" Here is a copy of that prime historical book, which the 
learned call Cathreim Tlwirdhealbhaigh [the Wars of Turlogh], 
in which is set forth every renowned deed that happened in 
Thomond, or North Munster, for more than two hundred years, 
or nearly from the Anglo-Norman invasion of Erinn to the 
death of De Clare ; first written by John, the son of Rory Mac 
Grath, the chief historian to the noble descendants of Cos [the 
Dalcassians], in the year 1459, as appears at the nineteenth 
folio of the same very old book, which may be seen at this day ; 
and now newly written by Andrew Mac Curtin for the use of 
Tadhg, son of John, son of Mahon, son of Donnoch, son of 
Tadhg Og^ son of Tadhg^ son of Donnoch, son of Rory, son of 
Mahon, son of John, son oiDomhnall Ballachj son of Mahon the 
Blind, son of Maccon, son of Cumeadha^ son of Maccon, son of 
LocJdainn, son of Cumeadha M6r Mac Namara of Ranna. 
A.D. 1721". 

The transcriber of this copy, Andrew Mac Curtin, of Ennis- 
timon, in the county of Clare, was one of the best, if not the 
very best, Irish scholar of his day ; and a transcript from his 
accurate hand may be received with confidence, and looked 
upon, for all historical purposes, as of equal value with the 
original. The Mac Namara, for whom the transcript was made, 
represented, in the direct line, the ancient chiefs of the Clann 
Cuilein^ in Clare ; and well might he be anxious to preserve in 
his family a correct copy of this historical piece, because the Mao 
Namaras, his ancestors, were the most numerous, the most 
important, and, if possible, the most valiant of the proud and 
powerfiil Dalcassian Claims who took part in the fearrul internal 
warfare recorded in it. 

The tract opens with the death of the brave Domhnall Mor 
O'Brien, the last king of Munster, in the year 1194, and the 
elevation of his son, Donoch, (or Donnchadh) Cairbrech O'Brien 
to his place, — but as chief of the Dalcais only (not as King of 
Munster), with the title of The O'Brien. The incidents of this 
prince's reign are passed over lightly, to his death, in the year 
1242. Donnoch was succeeded by his son Conor, who erected 
the monastery of Corcomroe, in which his tomb and effigy may 
be seen at this day. This Conor had two sons, Tadhg and Brian 
Ruadh O'Brien, of whom I shall presently speak. 

The Anglo-Norman power which came mto the country in 



the year 1172, had constantly gained ground, generation after lect. m. 
generation, as you are of coiu-se aware, in consequence chiefly ^ „. , 
of the mutual jealousies and isolated opposition oi the individual of the 
chiefs and clanns among the Gaedhils. At last the two great tbomond. 
sections of the country, the races of tlie north and the south, re- 
solved to take counsel, and select some brave man of either of the 
ancient royal houses to be elevated to the chief command of the 
■whole nation, in order that its power and efficiency might be the 
more eflfectually concentrated and brought into action against 
the common enemy. To this end, then, a convention was ar- 
xan^d to take place between Brian O'Neill, the greatest leader 
of the north at this time, and Tadhg, the son of Conor O'Brien, 
— at Caeluisg^ [Narrow Water], on Loch Erne (near the present 
Castle Calwell). O'Neill came attended by all the chiefs of the 
north and a numerous force of armed men. O'Brien, though in 
his father's lifetime, went thither, at the head of the Munster 
and Connacht chiefs, and a large body of men in arms. The 
great chiefs came face to face at either Bank of the Narrow 
Water, but their old destiny accompanied them, and each came 
to the convention fully determined that himself alone should be 
the chosen leader and king of Erinn. The convention was, 
as might be expected, a failure; and the respective parties 
returned home more divided, more jealous, and less powerful 
than ever to advance the general interests of their country, and 
to crush, as united they might easily have done, that* crafty, 
unscrupulous, and treacherous foe, which contrived then and for 
centunes after to rule over the clanns of Erinn, by taking ad- 
vantage of those dissensions among them which the stranger 
always found means but too readily to foment and to perpetuate. 
This convention or meeting of O'Brien and O'Neill took 

Slace in the year 1258, according to the Annals of the Four 
laaters; and in the year after, that is in 1259, Tadhg O'Brien 
died. In the year after that again, that is, in 1260, Brian 
O'Neill himself was killed in the battle of Down Patrick, by 
John de Courcy and liis followers. 

The premature death of Tadhg O'Brien so preyed on his 
father, that for a considerable time he forgot altogether the 
duties of his position and tlie general interests of his people. 
This state of supineness encouraged some of his subordinate 
chiefs to withhold from him his lawful tributes. 

Among these insubordinates was the OLochlainn of Burren, 
whose contumacy at length roused the old chief to action ; and 
in the year 1267 he marched into OLochlainrCs country, as far 
as the wood of Siubhdaineach, in the north-west part of Burren. 
Here the chief was met by the OLochlainns and their adhe- 


LECT. XI. rents, and a battle ensued, in which O'Brien was killed and his 
TheHisto *^™^y routed: and hence he has been ever since known in his- 
of the ^ toiy as Conchubhar na Siubhdaini^ or Conor oi Siubhdaineach. 
T^'oMOND. Tadhg O'Brien, the elder son of Conor, left two sons, Turloch 

and Donoch ; and according to the law of succession among the 
claims, Torloch, though still in his minority, should succeed to 
the chieftaincy and to the title of O'Brien. In this, however, 
he was wrongfully anticipated by his father's brother Brian 
Ritadh, who had himself proclaimed chief, and without any 
opposition. This Brian JRuadh continued to rule for nine 
years, until the yoimg Torloch came to full age ; when, backed 
by his relatives the MacNamaras, and his fosterers the O'Deas, 
he marched with a great force against his uncle, who, sooner 
than risk a battle, fled with his immediate family and adherents, 
taking with him all his property, eastwards into North Tip- 
perary, and left young Torloch in full possession of his ancestm 
rule and dignity. 

Brian RuadJi, however, could not quietly submit to his loss 
and disgrace, and, taking coimsel with his adherents, they 
decided on his seeking the aid of the national enemy, to rein- 
state him in his lost chieftainship. For this purpose Brian 
Ruadh and his son Donoch proceeded to Cork, to Thomas de 
Clare, son of the Earl of Gloucester, then at the head of all the 
Anglo-Norman forces of Munster, and sought his assistance, offer- 
ing him an ample remuneration for his services. They offered him 
all the land lying between the city of Limerick and the town 
of Ardsallas, in Clare. De Clare gladly accepted those terms, 
and both parties met by agreement at Limerick, from which 
they marched into Clare ; where, before any successful opposition 
coiud be offered them, the castle of Btmratty was built and 
fortified by the Norman leader. 

A short time afterwards, however (in the year 1277), De 
Clare put the unfortunate Brian Ruadh to death ; having had 
him drawn between horses and torn limb from lunb, notwith- 
standing that the fidelity of their mutual aUiance had been 
ratified by the most solemn oaths on all the ancient relics of 
Mimster. And it was then indeed that the great wars of 
Thomond commenced in earnest ; for, notwithstandinff the 
treacherous death of their father, the infatuated sons of iBrian 
Ruadh still adhered to De Clare, and the warfare was kept up 
with varjdng success till the year 1318, when Robert de Clare 
and his son were at last killed, in the battle of Disert O'Dea. 
After this the party of Brian Ruadh were compelled to fly once 
more over the Shannon into Ara, in Tipperary, where their 
descendants have ever since remained unoer the claim designa- 
tion of the O'Briens of Ara. 


The brave Dalcassians having thus rid themselves both of lectxi. 
domestic and foreign usurpation, preserved their country, their ^^ ^^^^ 
independence, and their native laws and institutions, down to of the 
the year 1542, when Murroch, the son of Turloch, made sub- Soaom 
mission to Henry the Eighth, abandoned the ancient and glorious 
title of the O'Brien, and disgraced his lineage by accepting a 
patent of his territory from an English king, with the Enghsh 
title of Earl of Thomond. 

As illustrative of local topographical and family history, this 
tract stands unrivalled. There is not an ancient chieftaincy in 
Clare that cannot be defined, and that has not been demied 
by its aid ; nor a family of any note in that part of Ireland, 
whose position and power at the time is not recorded in it. 
Among these families may be foimd — ^the O'Briens, the Mac- 
Namaras, the MacMahons, the O'Quinns, the O'Deas, the 
O'GriflFjrs (or Griffins), the O'Hehirs, the O'Gradys, the Mac 
Gormans, the O'Conors of Corcomroe, the O'Lochlainns of 
Burren, the O'Seasnans (or Sextons), the O Comhraidhis (or 
Curry s), the O'Kennedys, the O'Ho^ans, etc., etc. 

The style of the composition of this tract is extremely redun- 
dant, aboimding in adjectives of indefinable difference ; never- 
theless, it possesses a power and vigour of description and nar- 
ration which, independently of the exciting incidents, will 
amply compensate the reader's study. 

There are several copies of this tract extant in paper, the 
best of which known to me is Mac Curtin's, in Trinity College 
library; but there is a large fragment of it in vellum in the u- 
brary of the Royal Irish Academy, written in a most beautifid, 
but unknown hand, in the year 1509. 

The text of this tract would make about 300 pages of the 
text of O'Donovan's Annals of the Four Masters. 

The last piece of this class of historical composition which I 2jf„S^^ '" 
shall bring under your notice, before proceeding to give some 
account of the Historic Tales, is the " Book of Mimster", — an 
important collection of provincial history, and to a considerable 
extent of the history of the whole nation. 

The Book of Munsteb is an independent compilation, but 
of imcertain date, as we happen to have no ancient copy of it ; 
but as its leading points are to be found in the Books of Lein- 
ster, Balljrmote, and Lecain, we may believe that they must 
have taken their abstracts from this ancient book in its original 
form. There are two copies of it on paper in the Royal Irish 
Academy, both made at the beginning of the last century, but 
neither of them giving us any accoimt of the originals from 
which they were transcribed. 


LBCT. XL The book ^as is usual in all the very ancient independent 

The Book of ^^^^P^l^itions ot this kind) begins with a record of the creation 

MoKSTBB. (taken, of course, from tne Book of Genesis), and this merely 

tor the purpose of carrying down the pedigrees of the sons of 

Noah, and particularly of Japhet, from whom the Milesians of 

Erinn descend. 

The history of the Ebereans, or southern branch of the Mile- 
sian Hne, is then carried down from Eber to Brian Boroimhi 
and the time of the battle of Clontarf 

The line of succession of the kings and great chiefs of Mun- 
ster may be easily collected from the great books which I have 
before mentioned ; but in this particular " Book of Munster" 
there is a mass of details relative to the various disputes and 
contentions for this succession (between rival local aspirants, 
as well as between north and south Munster, or the Dal- 
cassian and Eugenian lines), not to be found in any other work 
that I am acquainted with. 

Space will not, however, here allow me to enter into a 
minute analysis of this important tract; but I may particularly 
call your attention to the detailed account it contains of the 
contests and circumstances attending the succession to the 
throne of Munster of Cathal Mac FinguinS, about the year 
720 ; of Fdlim Mac Crimthainn, about 824 ; of Cormac Mac 
Cullinan, about 885 ; of Ceallachain of Cashel, about 934; and 
o£ Brian BoroimhS^ about 976 ; all of which are full of historic 
interest, and the more so, as they are foimded upon indisputable 
facts not elsewhere minutely or satisfactorily recorded. 

The Book of Munster, including the pedigrees of the leading 
Munster families, consists of 260 pages folio, on paper, equal to 
400 paj^es of the Four Masters. I believe there is a vellum 
copy of it in the College of St. Isidore at Rome. 

Hi8*T ?Ri ^ *^^ ^®^ short account I have thus given you of the larger 

Tales. historical tracts, which supply, for those portions of our history 
which they describe, the chief details passed over in the mere 
Annals, I have only endeavoured to make you aware of the 
scope of this class of works, without enlarging on their special 
importance to the future historian of the country, who will find 
in them so much of continuous narrative nearly made to his 
hand. A little consideration will indeed suggest to you how 
much I could have offered on this subject. 1 pass, therefore, 
without more delay to the consideration of a department of our 
literature, which is, perhaps, the largest in extent, and hardly 
the least in importance, among the materials for the elucidation 
of our ancient history, but which I find I must, for the proper 


imdeistanding of it, introduce to your notice here by some ob- lect. xi. 
servations of an introductory character. I allude to. those ^^^^ 
shorter pieces, which we may call the Historic Tales, and histobic 
which consist of detailed accounts of isolated exploits and inci- ^^^^ 
dents, strictly historical in the main, but recited often with no 
inconsiderable amount of poetical or imaginative accompani- 
ment of style. 

Of these compositions, a very large number have come down 
to us, and when, by careful collation, and by the judicious ap- 
plication to them of an enlightened criticism, the true facts of 
nistory with which they abound shall be collected, the future 
historian will find himself at no loss for materials of the most 
valuable kind. 

I do not purpose in this place to enter into oay detailed ex- 
amination of the authority of these tracts. Many of them con- 
sist entirely of pure history ; many others contain recitals of 
indubitable historic facts in great detail, but mixed with minor 
incidents of an imaginative character. That they are all true 
in the main, I have myself no doubt whatever ; but the investi- 
gation of their claims to respect in this regard would lead me at 
present too far from the prescribed track of an introductory 
course. I shall, therefore, only open to you shortly the circum- 
stances under which tales of this kind were composed, and the 
general character and profession of their authors; and I shall 
refer you to a few examples of the recognition of their authority 
by some of our earliest, most careful, and authentic writers. I 
shall then at once proceed to describe to you the contents and 
plan of a few of these compositions, which may be taken as 
specimens of the remainder of them in each department. 

I have abeady shown you in a former Lecture, that under the S^n tSf*" 
ancient laws of Erinn an obligation was imposed upon certain dutiea of an 
high officers to make and preserve regular records of the his- 
tory of the country. 

The duty of the OllamJis was, however, a good deal more 
extensive than this, for they were bound bjr the same laws to 
make themselves perfect masters of that history in all its de- 
tails, and to teach it to the people b^ public recitals ; as well as 
to be the legal referees upon all subjects in dispute concerning 
history and 3ie genealogies (and you will bear m mind that the 

5 reservation of the rights of property of individuals intimately 
epended on the accuracy of that history and of those genea- 
logies). The laws provided strictly for the education of the 
Ouamh (and no one could act as a ferehon or Judge that had 
not attained the degree of an OUamh), and they conferred upon 



him valuable endowments and most important privileges, all 
The edaca- ^^^ ^® forfeited for life, as I had occasion before to observe 
tion and to vou, if hc bccamc ffuilty of falsifying the history of any fact 
duties of »Q ri- 1 r r '^ 

ouamh. or the genealogy ot any tamiiy . 

The education of the Ollamh was long and minute. It ex- 
tended over a space of twelve years " of hard work**, as the 
early books say, and in the course of these twelve years certain 
regular courses were completed, each of which gave the stu- 
dent an additional degree, as a i^7^, or Poet, with corres- 
ponding title, rank, and privileges. 

In the Book of Lecain (fol. 168) there is an ancient tract, 
describing the laws upon this subject, and referring, with quo- 
tations, to the body of the Brethibh Nimliedh^ or " Brehon Laws". 
According to this authority, the perfect Poet or Ollamh should 
know and practise the Teinim 1/aegIia, the Imas Forosnadh^ 
and the Dichedal do chennaibh. The first appears to have been 
a peculiar druidical verse, or incantation, believed to confer upon 
the druid or poet the power of understanding everjrthing that it 
was proper for him to say or speak of The second is explained 
or translated, " the illumination of much knowledge, as from 
the teacher to the pupil", that is, that he should be able to ex- 
plain and teach the four divisions of poetry or philosophy, "and 
each division of them", continues the authority quoted, " is the 
chief teaching of three years of hard work". The third quaUfi- 
cation, or Dichedal, is explained, " that he begins at once the 
head of his poem", in short, to improvise extempore in correct 
verse. " To the Ollamh"^ says the ancient authority quoted in 
this passage in the Book of JLecain^ " belong synchronisms, to- 
gether with the laegha laidhibh^ or illuminating poems [incan- 
tations], and to him belong the pedigrees and the etymologies 
of names, that is, he has the pedigrees of the men of Erinn 
with certainty, and the branching off of their various relation- 
ships". Lastly, " Here are the four divisions of the knowledge of 
poetry (or philosophy)", says the tract I have referred to ; " ge- 
nealogies, synchronisms, and the reciting of (historic) tales form 
the fiSt division ; knowledge of the seven kinds of verse, and 
how to measure them by letters and syllables, form another of 
them ; judgment of the seven kinds of poetry, another of them ; 
lastly, Dichedal [or improvisation], that is, to contemplate and 
recite the verses without ever thinking of them before". 

It thus appears that the Ollamh was bound (and even from 
the very first course of his professional studies), among other 
duties, to have the Historic Stories ; and these are classed with 
the genealogies and synchronisms of history, in which he was 
to preserve the truth of history pure and unbroken to sue- 


ceeding generations. According to several of the most ancient lect. xi, 
authontieSji the Ollamh, or perfect Doctor, was bound to have ^^ ^^^ 
(for recital at the public feasts and assemblies) at least Seven tion and 
Fifties of these Historic narratives; and there appear to have o/SmA?'*" 
been various degrees in the ranks of the poets, as they pro- 
greased in education towards the final degree, each of which 
. was bound to be supplied with at least a certain number. Thus 
the Anroth^ next in rank to an Ollamhy should have half the 
number of an Ollamh; the Cli^ one-third the number, according 
to some authorities, and eighty according to others ; and so on 
down to the Foehlog^ who should have thirty, and the DrUeg 
(the lowest of all), who should have twenty of these tales. 

To each of these classes, as I have observed, proportionate 
emoluments and privileges were seciired by law. 

It is thus perfectly clear that the compositions I have already The autho- 
called the Historic Tales, were composed for a much graver "iustorio* 
purpose than that of mere amusement; and when the nature of pjjjl^'" 
the profession of the Ollamhy the Poet, the Historical Teacher, History. 
is considered, as well as the laws by which it was regulated, it 
will not seem surprising that the poems and tales in which 
these officers preserved the special facts and details of histoiy, 
should have been regarded at all times as of the greatest autho- 
rity. Accordingly, we find them quoted and followed by the 
most distinguished of the early critics and teachers of our his- 
tory, such as the celebrated Flann of Monasterboice, and others. 

As instances of such references, I shall take a few examples 
at random from the Book of Lecain ; but they occur in innu- 
merable places in that and other ancient MSS. 

The £k>ok of Lecain^ at folio 15, b. a., after a poem on the 
death of Aengua Ollmucadhj quotes as authority for it a poem 
by Eoehaidh OTlinn; and at 16, b. b., it quotes from another 
poem by the same writer. 

At folio 25, b.b., a poem by Finntan (sixth century) is quoted 
as an authority on the subject of the colonies of Partiialon, 
and Nemhed^ and of the Firbolgs. 

At folio 277, b., a poem by Mac Liag, on the Firbolg co- 
lonies, is quoted as having been taken from their own accounts 
of themselves ; and at 278, a., another on the same subject. 

At folio 280, is quoted a poem by Eoehaidh O'Flinn, on the 
Tuatha DS Danann and the first battle of Magh Tuireadh — a 
poem, in which the account of that battle corresponds with 
that of the ancient prose tale I have presently to describe 
to you. And so on. ^ 

One reason, perhaps, why even the poems of the learned 
men of ancient times have thus been regarded as of such im- 




LECT XI. portance, is that the OUamhs were in the habit of teaching the 
The fch ^^*® ^^ history to their pupils in verse, probably that jhey might 
rity of the thus be the more easily remembered. Thus we find in the Book 
Taii?\ M of Leeain (fol. 27, a. b.) a poem by Colum Cille, in praise of 
ShSory' ^ochaidh Mac Eire, addressed to a pupil who questioned him ; 
and this poem contains a minute account of the battle of Magh 
Tuireadh, and also of the Milesian exjpedition to Ennn. 

And Flann of Monasterboice (perhaps the greatest of our 
early critics), the celebrated compiler of the synchronisms 
which pass imder his name, frequently quotes from and refers 
to poems earlier than his time as authorities for historic fiicts^ 
ana he also often commttnicates in verse to his pupils his own 
profound historic learning. Of Flann's critical and historical 

rsms there are several in the Book of Leeain : as at folio 24, 
b., one on the kings, fi:om Eochaidh Feidhleach to LaeghairS^ 
in which he gives an account of the CathrSim Dathi, and the 
Bruighean Da Derga, exactly corresponding with the recitals of 
those events in the Historic Tales so named. So also, Leeain, 
folio 25, a.; 28, a. a.; 280, etc., etc., etc.. 

It seems strange enough that the authors of the Historic Tales 
should have been permitted at all to introduce fairy agency in 
describing the exploits of real heroes, and to describe purely 
imaginative characters occasionally among the subordinate per- 
sonages in these stories. This seems strange, because they could 
not after the historic occurrences themselves, nor tamper with the 
truth of the genealogies and successions of the kings and chief- 
tains, — ^which it was their professional duty to teach in purity 
to the people, — ^without hazarding the loss of all their dignities 
and privileges. It is, however, certain that the rules of these 
compositions permitted the introduction of a certain amoimt of 
poetical machmery. These rules, and the circumstances under 
which, and the extent to which, tiie OUamhs used such licence, 
must remain matter for critical investigation. It only belongs 
to my present design to assure you of me historical authority of 
all the substantial statements respecting the battles, the expedi- 
tions, and the alliances of our early kings, contained in these 
Seela, or Tales : and of this authority there cannot be any doubt, 
if we are to believe the testimony of the most accurate of our 
early critics and the most venerable MSS. which have been 
handed down to us. 

One other observation remains to be made. That the His- 
toric Tales which I am about to describe to you are indeed 
those which the Ollamha were bound, imder tfie laws I have 
quoted, to have for recital to the people, we are fortunately in 
a condition to prove out of one of the earliest, and on the whole. 


I believe I may say, the most valuable, of all the early hiatoric lect. xt. 
books now in existence. I mean no other than the Book of _ 
Leinster itaelf. (T.aD.;_H. 2. 18). ^'"0^0" 

At folio 151, a., of this venerable MS., we find recorded the tSIs^m 
rule I have already referred to as to the number of Historic JSme^wi 
Tales which each class of poet, or teacher, was bound to have.— to nn 
[See original in Appehdix, No. LXXXVIII.] 

*' Of me ^qualifications of a poet in stories and in deeds to be 
related to lungs and chiefs, as follows, viz. : Seven times fifty 
stories, t.«., five times fifty prime stories, and twice fifty secon- 
dary stories; and these secondary stories are not permitted [that 
is, can only be permitted] but to foui grades only, viz.: an 
OUamh^ an Amrath^ a Cli^ and a Cano. And these ' Prime 
Stories' are: Destructions and Prcyingg, Courtships, Battles, 
Caves, Navigations, Tragedies (or Deaths), Expeditions, Elope- 
ments, and Oonflagrationfl". And afterwards, " These followmg 
reckon also as prime stories : stories of Irruptions, of Visions, of 
Loves, of Hostmgs, and of Migrations". 

A vast number of examples of these different prime stories 
follow, by which we are supplied with the names of so many 
as 187 in all, classified under their different heads ; and this 
invaluable list has been the means of identifying very many of 
these ancient tales among the MSS. which have been preserved 
to our times. — [See this List in the Appendix, No. LaXXIX.] 

The number of the ancient Historic Tales jet in existence 
is considerable, and several of them have been identified. Many 
of these, of course, are not known to us in so pure a state as we 
could wish, but each year's investigation throws some addi- 
tional li^ht on even the least of them, and brings out their his- 
toric vfiJue. I need only add, that die strictly Historic Tales 
known to me may be calculated as embracing matter extensive 
enough to occupy about 4000 pages of O'Donovan's Annals. 

Of the Historic Tales a few nave been printed within the last 
few years, which may be taken, to some extent at least, as spe- 
cimens of the remainder. The Cath Muighi Rath (Battle of 
Magh Rath^ or Moyra), published bjr the Archaeological Society 
in 1842, is one of the tales in the list in the Book of Leinster. 
The Celtic Society also minted two of the Historic Tales in 
1855, the Caih AfuighS JLecma^ and the Tochmarc Momira^ 
both of which are of remarkable interest and great historic value. 

Of those which I have^elected shortly to introduce to your 
notice here, the first is alsofone of the Catha, or Battles. It is 
that of Magh Tuireadh, one of the earliest battles recorded in 
our history, and almost the earliest event upon the record of 
which we may place sure reliance. It was m this battle that 

16 B 


LECT. XI. the Firbolgs were defeated by the Tuatha De Danann race, 

1° Of the ^'^^ subsequently ruled in Erinn till the coming of the Mile- 

ca'tha, or sians from Spain ; so that it forms a great epoch and starting 

»' Battles . p^jjj^ jj^ Q^jp liistory.l The tract which goes by the name is 

somewhat long, opemng indeed with the same account of the 

first colonies or expeditions that landed in Erinn which we 

find in the Books of Invasions. It is impossible that I should 

give you the whole account here, or indeed any considerable 

part of it, but I shall endeavour to make the contents of the 

tract as intelligible as our time may permit. 

The "Battle The Firbolgs, accordinff to the Annals, arrived in Ireland 

%xiir7adir. about the year of the world 3266. Very soon after landing, 

the chiefs, though wide apart the spots upon which in different 

Earties they first touched the shore, contrived to discover the 
ite of each other; and having looked out for a central and 
suitable place to reunite their forces, they happened to fix on 
the green hill now called Tara, but which they named Druim 
Cain^ or the Beautiful Eminence. Here they planted their seat 
of government ; they divided the island into five parts, between 
the five brothers, and distributed their people among them. 
The Firbolgs continued thus to hold and rule the country for 
the space of thirty-six years, that is, till the year of the world 
8303, when Eoehaidh the son of Ere was their king. 

In this year the Firbolgs were surprised to find that the island 
^ contained some other inhabitants whom they had never before 
seen or heard of These were no other than the Tuatha Di Da- 
nann^ the descendants odobath, son oiBeathach. lohath was one 
of the Nemedian chiefs who survived the destruction of Conaings 
Tower (on Tory Island), and passed into the north of Europe; 
whilst another of them, Simeon Breac, passed into Thrace, from 
whom the Firbolgs descended. Both tnbes thus met in the old 
land once more, after a separation of about 237 years. 

The Tuatha Di Danann^ after landing on the north-east 
coast of Erinn, had destroyed their ships and boats, and steal- 
thily made their w^ into the fastnesses of Magh Rein (in the 
County Leitrim). Here they had raised such temportuy works 
of defence as might save them from any sudden surprise of an 
enemy, and then gradually showing themselves to the Firbolg 
inhabitants, they pretended that they had, by their skill in ne- 
cromancy, come into Erinn on the wings of the wind. 

The king of the Firbolgs, having heard, of the arrival of 
these strange tribes, took coimsel wim his wise men, and they 
resolved to send a large, powerful, and fierce warrior of their 
people forward to the camp of the strangers, to make observa- 
tions, and ascertain as much of their history and condition as he 


could. The chosen warrior, whose name was Sreng, went forward l^ct. xt. 
on his mission to Magh Mein; but before he reached the camp 
the Tuatha Di Danann sendnels had perceiyed him, and they catha, or 
immediately sent forward one of their own champions, named cnlV'^^Batue 
Breas, to meet and talk to him. Both warriors approached ^^rZdh-). 
with great caution, until they came within speaking distance 
of each other, when each of them planted his shield in front 
of him to cover his body, and viewed the other over its border 
with inquiring eyes. Areas was the first to break silence, and 
Sreng was delighted to hear himself addressed in his own lan- 
guage, for the old Graedhlic was the mother-tongue of each. 
They drew nearer each other, and, after s^me conversation, dis- 
covered each other s lineage and remote consanguinity. 

They next examined each other's spears, swords, and shields ; 
and in this examination they discovered a very marked difference 
in the shape and excellence of the spears; Sreng being armed 
with two heavy, thick, pointless, but sharply rounded, spears ; 
while Breas carried two beautifully shaped, thin, slender, long, 
sharp-pointed spears. Breas then proposed on the part of the 
Tuatha I)i Danann^ to divide the island into two parts, be- 
tween the two great parties, and that they should mutually 
enjoy and defend it against all future invaders. They then ex- 
changed spears for the mutual examination of both hosts ; and 
after having entered into vows of future friendship, each re- 
turned to his people. 

Sreng returned to Tara, as we shall in future call that place ; 
and having recounted to the king and his people the result of 
his mission, they took counsel, and decided on not granting to 
the Tuatha Di Danann a division of the coxmtry, but, on 
the contrary, prepared to give them battle. In the meantime, 
Breas returned to his camp, and gave his people a very discou- 
raging account of the appearance, tone, and arms of the fierce 
man he had been sent to parley with. The Tuatha Di 
Danann having drawn no favourable augury of peace or friend- 
ship from this specimen of the Firbolg warriors and his formid- 
able arms, abandoned their holdings, and, retiring farther to the 
south and west, took up a strong position on Moimt Belgadan, 
at the west end of Magh Nia (the plain of Nia), which is now 
called Ma^h Tuireadh (or Moytura), and is situated near the 
village of Cong, in the present county of Mayo. The Firbolgs 
marched from Tara, with all their forces, to this plain of Moy- 
tura, and encamped at the east end of it. Nuada, who was the 
king of the Tuatha Di Danann^ however, wishing to avoid hosti- 
lities if possible, opened new negotiations with King Eocluiidh 
through the medium of his bards. The Firbolg king declined 


lECT. XI to ^rant any accommodation, and the poets having returned to 

lo Of the ^^^^ hosts, both the ffreat parties prepared for battle. 

catha,ot The battle took place on Midsmmner-day. The Firbolgs 

(Th?" fiittie were defeated with great slaughter, and their King (who left the 

rJ^wdh^x ^ttle-field with a body guard of a hundred brave men, in 

search of water to allay his burning thirst) was followed by a 

party of a hundred and fifty men, led by the three sons of 

Iferaedh, who pursued him all the way to the strand called 

Traigh Eothaiti [near Ballysadare, in the county of Sli^ol 

Here a fierce combat ensued between the parties, in which 

King Eochaidh fell, — as well as the leaders on the other side, 

the three sons of Nmiedh. 

The sons of Nemedh were buried at the west end of the 
strand, at a place since called Leea Meie Nemedh, or the Grave 
Stones of the sons ot Nemedh; and King Eochaidh was buried 
where he fell in the strand, and the great heap of stones known 
to this day as the Cam of Traigh Eothaill (and which was 
formerly accounted one of the wonders of Erinn) was raised 
over hiin by the victors. 

In the couise of the battle, the Pirbolg warrior Sieng dealt 
the king of the Tuatha D6 Danann, Nuada, a blow of his 
heavy sword, which clove the rim of his shield, and cut off his 
arm at the shoulder. Nuada had a silver arm made for him by 
certain ingenious artificers attached to his court, and he has been 
ever since known in our history and romances as Nuada 
Airgead-lamh, or the Silver-handed. 

The battle of Magh Tuireadh continued for four successive 
days, until at length the Firbolgs were diminished to 300 
fighting men, headed by their still surviving warrior-chief, 
Sreng ; and, being thus reduced to a great inequahty of numbers 
compared with their enemies, they held a counsel and resolved 
to demand single combat, of man to mui, in accordance with 
the universally acknowledged laws of ancient chivalry. The 
Tuatha Di Danann thought better, and offered Sreng terms of 
peace, and his choice of the five great divisions of Erinn. 
Sreng accepted these terms, and took as his choice the present 
province of Connacht, which, down to the time of Conn of the 
Hundred Battles, was called by no other name than Cuigead 
Sreing — ^that is Sreng's province, — ^in which indeed his descend- 
ants were still recogmzed down so late as the year 1650, 
according to Duald Mac FIrbis. 

The antiquity of this tract, in its present form, can scarcely 
be under fourteen hundred years. The story is told witn 
singular truthfulness of description. There is no attempt at 
making a hero, or ascribing to any individual or party the per- 


formance of any incredible deeds of valour. There is, however, lbct. xi. 
a good deal of dniidism introduced; — ^but the position and con- ^^ ^^^ 
duct of the ^oets or bards during the battle, and in the midst of gatua, or 
it, — ^the orimn of the name of Moytura, or the plain of pillars or cm " alttie 
columns, — the origin, names, and use of so many of tne pillar ^^^^^^^ 
stones, of the moimds, and of the huge graves, vulgarly called 
Cromlechs, with which the plain is still covered, — are all matters 
of such interest and importance in the reading of our ancient 
history and the investigation of our antiquanan monumental 
remains, that I am bold to assert that I believe there is not in 
all Europe a tract of equal historical value yet lying in MS., 
considenng its undoubted antiquity and authenticity. 

There is but one ancient copy of this tract known to me 
to be in existence, and of this Ipossess an accurate transcript. 

The mere facts of the coming m of the Tuatha Di Danann^ 
of the battle that ensued, and of the death of King Eochaidh 
only, are told in O'Donovan's Annals of the Foui Masters, at 
the year of the world 3303. That accomplished Irish topogra- 
pher lays down the position of Moytura, and other places men- 
tioned in our tract, with his usual accuracy; but ne has mis- 
taken the accoimt of the second battle (which is in the British 
Museum) for this ; and of that battle I shall now proceed to 

S've you a short sketch, in abstracting for you a second of these 
historic Tales, which we may call the Second Battle of Magk 
Tuireadh, or the Battle of Magh Tuireadh " of the Fomorians". 

After the brief record of the first battle by the Four Masters, The "Battle 
at the year of the world 3303, they tell us (at the year 3304) Sv^SSSa 
that BreaSf the chief of the Tuath Di Danann^ who was a Fo- Fomorian*". 
morian by his father (the same who, as we have seen, held the 
parley with the Firbolg warrior Sreng), received the regency 
from nis people during tne illness of their king, Nuada, who had 
lost his arm in the battle. Breaa held the regency for seven years, 
when he resigned it again to the king ; and Nuada (who m the 
mean time was supplied with a silver arm by his siurgeon, Dian- 
cechty BJxdCreidndy tne greatworker in metals, — and mence called 
Nuada Airgid-lamh, or " of the Silver Hand") reasSumed the 
sovereignty. The Annals pass on then to the twentieth year of 
Nuada's reign, (that is, a.m. 3330), where they merely state 
that, he fell in the battle of Moytura of the Fomorians, by the 
hand of Balor " of ihe stiff blows'*, one of the Fomorians. 

Now nothing could be more dry or less attractive tiian this 
simple record, m four lines, of the aeath in battle of the king of 
a country and people, without a single word of detail, or any 
reference whatever to the cause of the war, or to the other actors 
in the battie ; so that any person might take it upon himself to 


LBCT. XI. question the veracity of bo meagre a record, if there had been 

JO Q,the ^^ collateral evidence to support it. This, however, like the 

Catha, or former battle, had its ancient history, as well as its dry chronicle ; 

CThe"Blttie and from the former I shall lay before you in the following ab- 

TufrtS!dh, stractW much of it as will, at least, I hope arouse the curiosity 

Fom ri " ^^^ attention of my hearers, — begging of them at the same time 

to remember, that notwithstanding all that has been written 

and spoken for and against the remote history of Ireland, even 

up to this day, the test of pure, unbiassed criticism, historical 

and chronological, has not yet been applied to it. 

The tract opens with an account of the lineage of Breas, and 
how it was that he became king. 

We have seen liiat the warrior regent resigned the sovereignty 
at the end of seven years to Nuada the king; but it was more 
by compulsion than good will that he did so, for his rule was so 
marked by inhospitaEty , and by entire neglect of the wants and 
wishes of his people, that loud murmurs of discontent assailed 
him from all quarters long before his regency was terminated. 
In short, as the chronicler says, the knives of his people were 
not greased at his table, nor did their breath smell of ale at the 
banquet. Neither their poets, nor their bards, nor their satirists, 
nor their harpers, nor their pipers, nor their trumpeterst nor their 
jugglers, nor their buffoons, were ever seen engaged in amusing 
them at the assemblies of his court. It is in hne added that he 
had even succeeded in reducing many of the best and bravest of 
the Tuatha Di Danann warriors to a state of absolute servitude 
and vassalage to himself; and his design seems to have been to 
substitute an absolute rule for the circumscribed power of a chief 
king under the national law of the claims. 

At the time that the discontent was at its height, a certain 
poet and satirist named Cairbri^ the son of the poetess Etan^ vi* 
sited the king's court ; but, in place of being received with the 
accustomed respect, the poet was sent, it appears, to a small dark 
chamber, without fire, furniture, or bed, where he was served 
with three small cakes of dry bread only, on a very small and 
mean table. This treatment was in gross violation of public 
law, and could not fail to excite the strongest feeling. The poet 
accordingly arose on the next morning, full of discontent and 
bitterness, and left the court not only without the usual profes- 
sional compliments, but even pronoimcing a bitter and wither- 
ing satire on his host. This was the first satire ever, it is said, 
wntten in Erinn ; and although such an insult to a poet, and 
the public expression of his indignation in consequence, would 
fall very far short of penetrating the quick feelings of the nobi- 
lity or royalty of these times (so different are the customs of afa- 


cient and modem honour), still it was sufficient in those early lkct. xt. 
days to excite the sympathy of the whole body of the Tuatha Di ^^ ^^^^ 
Danann^ chiefs and people ; and occurring as it did after so many Catha, or 
just causes of popular complaint, they determined without more crh* "Bake 
to call upon Breas to resign hi? power forthwith. To this call ^fr^^ 
the regent reluctantly acceded ;|ind having held coimcil with his ^*^J^^?,: 
mother, they both determined to retire to the court of his father, 
Elaiha^ at this time the great chief of the Fomorian pirates, or 
sea kings, who then swarmed through all the German Ocean, 
and ruled over the Shetland Islands and the Hebrides. 

Though Elatha received his son coldly, and seemed to think 
that his disgrace was deserved, still he acceded to his request to 
furnish him with a fleet and army with which to return and 
conquer Erinn for himself, if he could, from his maternal rela- 
tions the Tuatha Di Danann. Breas was therefore recom- 
mended by his father to the favour of the great Fomorian 
chie^iJ, Balor " of the Evil Eye", king of the Islands, and In- 
deek^ son of Di-Domnand ; and these two leaders collected all 
the men and ships lying from Scandinavia westwards, for the 
intended invasion, so that they are said to have formed an un- 
broken bridge of ships and boats from the Hebrides to the north- 
west coast of Erinn. Having landed there, they marched to a 
plain in the present barony of Tirerrill, in the county of Sligo, — 
a spot surrounded by high hills, rocks, and narrow defiles ; — 
and, having thus pitched their camp in the enemy's country, 
they awaited the determination of the Tuatha Di Danann, to 
siurender or give them battle. The latter were not slow in pixj- 
paring to resist the invaders, and the recorded acxjount of their 
preparations is in full accordance with their traditional character 
as skilful artizans and profound necromancers. 

Besides the king, Nuada " of the Silver Hand", the chief men 
of the Tuatha Di Danann at this time were : the great Daghda; 
Lug, the son of Cian, son of Diancecht, their great Esculapius ; 
Offma Gnan-Aineach ("of the sun-Uke face"), and others; but 
the Daghda and Lug were the prime counsellors and arrangers 
of the battle. The tract proceeds to state how these two called 
to their presence : — ^their smiths ; their cerds, or sUver and brass 
workers ; their carpenters ; their surgeons ; their sorcerers ; their 
cup-bearers ; their druids ; their poets ; their witches ; and their 
chief leaders. And there is not, perhaps, in the whole ranffe of 
our ancient literature a more curious chapter than that which 
describes the questions which Lug put to these several classes 
as to the nature of the service wmch each was prepared to 
render in the battle, and the characteristic professional answer 
which he received from each of them. 



LBCT. n. The battle (which took place on the last day of October) is 
JO Of 4,,^ eloquently described, — with all the brave achievements, and all 
Catha, or the deeds of art and necromancy by which it was distinguished. 
C^" fiittie The Fomorians were defeated, and their chief men killed. King 
TufJ^ Nuada of the Silver Hand was indeed kiUed by Balor of the EvU 
^ ril/^ Eye, but Balor himself fell, soon after, W a stone flung at him 
""** * ^y ^^9 Q^ grandson by his daughter JEithlenn), which struck 
him (we are told) in the *'evil eye"', and with so much force, that 
it carried it out through the back of his head. 

The magical skill, as it was called, — ^in reality of course, 
the scientific superiority — of the Tuatha Di Danann^ stood 
them well in this battle ; for Diancecht^ their chief physician, 
with his daughter Ochtriuil^ and his two sons, Airmedh and 
Mioch, are stated to have previously prepared a healing bath or 
fountain with the essences of the prmcipal healing herbs and 
plants of Erinn, gathered chiefly in Lu8-Mhagh, or the Plain of 
Herbs (a district comprised in me present King's County) ; and 
on this bath they continued to pronoimce incantations during 
the battle. Such of their men as happened to be wounded in 
the fight were immediately brought to the bath and plunged in, 
and tney are said to have been instantly refreshed and made 
whole, so that they were able to return and fight against the 
enemy again and again.l 

The situation of the plain on which this battle was fought, is 
minutely laid down in the story, and has been ever since called 
Meagh Tuireadh na bh-Fomorach^ or " The Plain of the Towers 
(or pillars) of the Fomorians", to distinguish it firom the south- 
ern jMoytura, from which it is distant about fifty miles. 

The story does not enter into any account of the setting up 
of any tombs, towers, or pillars, though many ancient Cyclopian 
graves and monuments remain to this day on the plain ; but as 
it appears to be imperfect at the end, it is possible that the tract 
in its complete form contained some details of this nature. 

Cormac Mac Ctdlinan in his celebrated Glossary quotes this 
tract in illustration of the word Nes; so that so early as the 
ninth century it was looked upon by him as a very ancient 
historic composition of authority. 

I have only to add, that the only ancient copy of this tract 
that I am acquainted with, or that, perhaps, now exists, is one 
in the British M useiun, finely written on vellum by Gilla-Riab' 
hack O'Clery, about the year 1460.] Of this I had a perfect 
transcript made by my son Eugene, under my own inspection 
and correction, in London, in the summer of last year [1855] ; 
so that the safety of the tract does not any longer depend on the 
existence of a single copy. 


[DdlTered Uimh e« 1886.] 

Ths Historic Tales (oontinued). 2. Of the Longasa. ot Vovages. The 
Histoiy of the '* Voyage of Labhraidh Loingseach, or Maen*^, The " Voyage 
of BrtaaaT. 8. Of the Toghla^ or Destroctions. The " Destruction of the 
Brtngkean (or Court oQ X)^ BergaT. The '' Bruighean D6 Choga*\ 4. Of 
tiie Airgn^, or Slaughters. The *' Slaughters (battles) of Conghal Cldring- 
neacK\ Of the Beyolt of the Aitkeach Tuatha, called the Attacotti, or Atta- 
cots. The ** Slaughter of the Noble Clanns of Eiinn, by Cairhri Cinn-caiV* 
(Carbry-Cat-head). 6. Of the Forlxua, or Sieges. The " Sege of Edar", 
(the Fortress of Howth Hill). The '* Siege of Drom Damhghaire'' (Knock- 

In the last lectiire I opened the account I proposed to give you 
of the Historic Tales, with the remarkable tracts which describe 
the first and second battles of Magh Tuireadh. 

These tracts aflforded us examples of the most important class 
of those Prim^sceUif or Prime Stories, mentioned m the Book 
of Leinster: I mean the Catha^ or Battles. The remainder of 
the tales of which I intend to speak, as examples of the other 
classes, may be most conveniently introduced in the chrono- 
logical order of the events narrated in them ; but it is proper to 
remind you, that no such system of selection is adopted m the 
list in the Book of Leinster, or elsewhere, and that each class of 
the ancient Historic Tales embraces histories of events occur- 
ring at every period of our history, from the most remote to the 
tenth century. The division of the tales into classes was purely 
arbitrary, and apparently for the mere convenience of reference 
All these tales are but the recitals in detail of isolated events of 
history, either in explanation of important historical occur- 
rences, or illustrating the wisdom or gallantry of the heroes of 
the Gaedhlic race, or recording some interesting circimistance 
in their well-known career. And of each of tne classes into 
which this department of our historical literature was divided 
we possess still several examj)les. 

The next of these talcs which I have selected to describe to 
you is that in which the curious history of Labhraidh Loing- 
seach is recorded, a Leinster prince, who became monarch of 
Erinn about the year 641 before Christ. This tale might, per- 
haps, be classed among the Tochmarca, or Courtships, m so far 
as it contains a relation of the romantic story of the marriage of 
Labhraidh with the lady JUoriadh, the daughter of the king of 



LECT. XII. West Munster ; or it might take its place among the Airani^ or 

20 Of jjj^ Slaughters, in so much as it details the Destruction of the fort 

LoKQASA, or of Jufinn High (near Carlow), which was taken by LabhraidJi 

(Th7"^>y*- from his treacherous grand-imcle, Cohkthach Cael, the usurping 

Jl?<£f f^^- ^^g of Erinn, who was killed in it It may, however, as probably 

*«acA "). be the tale recorded in the Book of Leinster among the Lonoasa, 

or Voyages, as the Longeaa Labhrada, and as the princess second 

name of Loingseach [" the Voyager"] was due to this Longeas, 

we may perhaps take this tract as an appropriate specimen of 

that class of pieces. 

The Longeas was in one sense simply a voyage ; from Longj 
a ship. But it is observable that this designation is usually con- 
fined in ancient stories to a voyage involuntarily undertaken, as 
for instance in the case of a banishment, or a flight. A volun- 
tary expedition by sea is described under a different name, that 
of Imram, and we shall find an example of that class also 
amongst the tales which I have yet to introduce to your notice. 
In a former lecture I believe I told you something of the 
great king Ugaini Mor, from whom almost all the chief Graedh- 
lic families in the provinces of Leinster, Ulster, and Connacht 
trace their descent. Ugaini Mor was king of all Erinn about 
the year 633 before Christ, according to the Annals of the Four 
Masters. He reined forty years ; and he was at last succeeded, 
in 693 B.C., by ms eldest son, Laeghairi Lore, who was how- 
ever treacherously killed two years afterwards by his brother, 
Cobhthach Gael Breagh; and this Cobhthach then assumed the 
kingship of Erinn, which he enjoyed for full half a century, till 
he also was slain at the taking of Dinn Righ, just alluded to. It 
is with the accession of Cobhthach Gael to the supreme throne 
that the story otLabhraidh commences. This story is particu- 
larly interesting as recording one of the earliest instances of the 
very early cultivation of music among the ancient Irish, — ^in the 
power exercised over the feelings of his audience by GraftinSi- 
the first harper of whom we find any special mention in our books. 
Laegliairi Lorc^ the story tells us, had one son, Ailill Aind^ 
who succeeded him as king of Leinster ; however, his uncle 
Gobhthach soon procured his death by means of a poisoned 
drink. Ailill AinSXe^ an infant son named Maen OUamh; but 
because he was dumb, and therefore, according to law, for ever 
ineligible to be made a king, the usurping monarch spared hi? 
life. The orphan prince was therefore allowed to reside in his 
father^s palace of Dinn Righ, and placed under the tuition and 
guardianship of two officers of the court of Tara, namely, Fer- 
ceirtnSj the poet and philosopher, and Craftini^ the harper. 
This instance of tne endeavour to communicate mental in- 


struction to a dumb person at so remote a period, is particularly lect.xii. 
interesting. The boy was not, however, as we shall see, dumb ^ ^^^^ 
from his birth, and the choice of a harper as one of his instruclr lonoasa, or 
ors would suggest that he was never deficient in hearing. (jbl^^y- 

Maeuj under the care and tuition of his two able guardians, r^iS^^ 
in the course of years, sprung up into manhood, singularly dis- »ea<*"). 
tinguished by beauty of feature, symmetry of person, and cul- 
tivation of mind. One day, however, it happened that while 
enjoying his usual sports in the play-groimd of his father's man- 
sion he received some offence from one of his companions. The 
insult was promptly resented by a blow ; and, in an attempt to 
fiEuit words to the action, the spell of his dumbness was broken, 
and the young man spoke. The quarrel was lost in an ex- 
clamation of joy raised by his companions, when they all cried 
out LabhraidhM (ten! Lahhraidh Maen ! [" Maen speaks ! Maen 
speaks H ; and his tutor Craftini coming up at the same time, 
and heanng what had happened, said that henceforth the prince 
should bear the name of Labhraidh Maen, in commemoration of 
the wonderfiil event. 

News of this important occurrence having reached the 
monarch Cobhthach, at Tara, he commanded Labhraidh Maen to 
appear at his court, with his tutors and retainers, to assist at 
the Ghreat Feast of Tara, which was then being held- 

While seated at the least, and in the presence of all the com- 
pany, the monarch (so the tale relates) nappened to ask aloud, 
who was, in the opmion of the company, the most munificent 
man in Erinn? Cra/tinS and Ferceirtini both answered that 
Ltohlvraidh Maen was the most munificent man in Erinn. He 
is better than me, then, said the monarch, and you both may 
go with him. The loss will be greater to you than to us, said 
the harper. Depart out of Erinn, said the monarch. If we can 
can find no refuge in Erinn, we will, said they. 

Labhraidh Maen, accordingly, took coimsel at once with his 
tutors and a few other friends, as to what he should do ; when, 
after a careful consideration of all the circumstances of their 
case, they decided on leaving Leinster, and seeking refuge and 
friendship from Scoriath, king of Fermorca (or the Great Men) 
of West Munster. Thither they repaired, and, after having 
received the customary hospitality of several days, without 
questions asked, at ScoriaiKs palace, the king at last inquired 
die cause and nature of their visit. We have oeen expelled by 
the monarch of Erinn, said they. You are welcome to my care 
and protection, then, said Scoriath. 

The tale proceeds to tell us that king Scoriath had a daughter, 
whose name was Moriath, and whose beauty had so bewildered 


LBCT.xn. the younff princes and chiefs of Munster, that several schemes 
JO Of th ^^ ^^ devised by some of them to obtain unlawM possession 
LoNGASA, or of her person, after their proposals of marriage had been rejected. 
cn[7" v^yl On the discover^ of those designs by the la^'s parents, they de- 
JSdA^iIj- t^rmined on bemg her sole guardisms themselves, and, in order 
Moch"). that there should be no relaxation of their vigilance, it was ar- 
ranged between them that the father should have constant charge 
of her by day, and the mother by night, so that she should never 
be out of the safe keeping of eitner the one or the other. 

This vigilance on tne part of the royal parents did not escape 
the notice of their noble ffuest, who was, indeed, permitted to 
enjoy &ee conversation witn the beautiful Mariath, but subject to 
one trifling drawback, that, namely, of the presence of her father 
or mother on all such occasions. But, notwithstanding the res- 
traint which |)arental vigilance had placed upon any expression 
of tender sentiment, the youthful pair soon discovered that the 
society of each was highly prized and desired by the other ; but 
beyond this they had no power to proceed, — their love story had 
come prematurely to a full stop. The cautious parents of the 
young princess were, indeed, as oflen happens, the only persons 
m their court ignorant of the true state of the case ; out their 
watchfulness was not the less successful in baffling the designs 
of the lover. Distracted and dejected, the young Lahhraidh 
Maen had recourse to the coimsels of his faithful friend and 
mentor, Craftini^ and that illustrious harper appears to have 
been no stranger to the delicate management of small court 
difficulties of the kind. On this occasion, he advised his ward 
to wait for some favourable opportimity to carry out his inten- 
tions, and he assured him that when such an opportimity should 
offer, he, Craftini^ would contrive to obtain for him an interval 
of uninterrupted conversation with Moriath. 

Kin^ Seoriathf after some little time, happened to invite all 
the chiefs and nobles of his territory to a sumptuous feast. The 
delight of the guests was much heightened by Craftings per- 
formance on his harp ; and, when the king, queen, and all the 
festive company were plunged in enjoyment, exhilarated by 
wine, and charmed by the imequalled melody of the most dis- 
tinguished performer of his time, Labhraidh Maen and Moriath 
snatched the opportunity to slij) away unobserved from the 
company. No sooner did the gifted na^r believe them to 
have gone beyond the hearing of his music, than he struck the 
almost magical tones of the Suantraighiy which was of so richly 
soft and enchanting a character as to throw the whole company, 
including the king and queen, into the most delicious and pro- 
found slumber; and in the trance of this slumber they were all 


kept by the ma^c of Crafdni's harp, until the young lovers lkct. xn. 
had time to return again and take their proper seats in the as- 
sembly, after having, for the first time, plighted to each other 
mutusd vows of constancy and affection. 

The Ollamha of music, or those raised to the highest order of ■"»« Mndc 

.. . . _..'— - ,, o TTT ana MuBi- 

musicians m ancient llinnn, I may here tell you, were obuged, ciaasofan- 
by the rules of the order, to be perfectly accomplished in the *^®°* ^°°' 
performance of three peculiar classes or pieces of music, namely, 
the SuantraighSf which no one could hear without falling into 
a delightful slumber ; the Goltraighiy which no one coulcf hear 
without bursting into tears and lamentation; and the Gean- 
traiffhSf which no one could hear without bursting out into loud 
and irrepressible laughter. 

Crafting availed himself, as we have seen, of the possession 
of these, the highest gifts of his profession, to assist the designs 
of his young ward, and played into a profound sleep all those who 
would have stood in the way of his nappiness. 

Now, however, that the pardonable objects of the yoimg 
couple were attained, he changed his hand, and struck the 
GeantraighSy which roused the whole company, and quickly 
turned their quiet sleep into a tumult of uproarious laughter. 
And then, the musician having displayed these wonderful spe- 
cimens of his art, returned again to the performance of the less 
exciting, but always beautiful melodies, so many of which still 
remain to remind us of the ancient glories of our country, and 
continued to delight his hearers until tlie time of their retire- 
ment had arrived. 

In the meantime, the ever-suspicious queen imagined she de- 
tected some equivocal radiations in the glowing countenance of 
her daughter, and, api>roaching her nearer, she thought she 
caught me &intest imaginable whisper of a sigh. With an in- 
stinctive perception of deception and treason, she immediately 
called the king to her side : x our daughter, said she, has ceased 
to be herself; her sighs denote that she has given part of her 
heart to another. The king was outrageous, ordered the 
strictest investigation, and vowed that if the conspirators were 
discovered, their heads should be struck off. Cr^tinS remon- 
strated against the violence of such a proceeding, but the king, 
not being without some suspicions, and disregarding the invio- 
lable character of a poet and musician, threatened even him 
with punishment, should he interfere &rther. 

After the first burst of anger and indignation had subsided, 
however, and confidence had been once more restored between 
themotherand daughter, the latter graduallypermitted the former 
to discover the truth of her secret. It is but a poor compliment 


ijgcT.xu. to the march of intellect and the progress of civilization, that, 
20 Of the ^^ those remote ages, they solved the intricate complications of 
LoKOAaA,or precipitate love veTv much in the same way that we do in the 
(ThS^M^yl present enlightened times. But so it was, and King Scoriath 
tSmlSS^ and his prudent queen, by the silent sighs of their daughter 
•«««*")• and the soothing notes of Crafting's harp, were soon induced 
to accept Labhraidh Maen as their son-in-law ; and so terminated 
this comedy, precisely as such comedies are brought to a con- 
clusion even in the nmeteenth century. 

The alliance with the king of West Munster was an event of 
deep political, as well as social, importance to Labhraidh Maen; 
for, immediately after the event took place, his father-in-law 
placed at his command a large force of the bravest men in his 
territory, to assist him in recovering his hereditary kingdom of 
Leinster from his grand-uncle. With these troops he marched 
quietly into Leinster, where, being joined by a Ijurge number of 
adherents to his house's fortune, he at once laid siege to the 
royal palace of Dinn Righy and succeeded in taking it from the 
garrison placed in it by the monarch. His triumph, however, 
was but of short duration; for King Cobhtha^h, who had re- 
covered his first surprise, raised a large army, and marched from 
Tara at once into Leinster. 

Labhraidh Maen foxmd himself totally unable to meet such a 
force, and felt compelled to withdraw, for the time at least, from 
the unequal contest. He accordingly changed his plans on the 
instant, disbanded his followers, sent his wife, Moriath^ under 
the immediate guardianship of Craftini^ and attended by her 
countrymen, into Munster to her father; and, selecting from 
«mong his adherents a small band of brave men, he bid adieu to 
his native land, and took sail for the opposite coast of Britain. 
He made no delay in Britain, but, passmg over alone to France, 
he entered the military service of the king of that country, in 
which he so distinguisned himself that he soon became one of 
the chief commanders of the army there. 

After he had in course of time established himself in the full 
confidence and estimation of the king of France, Labhraidh 
Maen, who still kept up a correspondence with his friends in 
Erinn, determined, if he could, to make one more effort to 
re^n his rightftd inheritance. 

With this view, he made himself known, and disclosed his 
whole history to the king of France, and concluded by asking 
of him such a body of troops as he should select, to accompany 
him to Erinn, and assist hmi, in conjimction with his friends 
there, to reestablish himself in his kingdom. The French 
king consented without difficulty, and the expedition arrived 


safely in the mouth of the river Slaney, now the harbour of lbct. xii. 
Wexford. . aoQfthe 

After resting awhile here to recover from the fatigues of their lokoasa, or 
voyage, and being joined by great numbers from Leinster and cnS^^ji 
Munster, the expedition marched by night to Dinn Righ, where JStt")!^*^**^ 
the monarch Cobhihach, entirely ignorant of their approach, 
happened to be at the time hol(ung an assembly, accompanied 
by thirty of the native princes and a body guard of seven hun- 
dred men. The palace was surprised and set on fire, and the 
monarch, the princes, the guards, and the entire household, 
were burned to death. This was the Argcdn Dinn R\ghy or 
Slaughter of Dinn Sigh. 

Labhraidh then assumed the monarchy, and reigned over 
Eiinn eighteen years. 

Another of these Loinaeas, but which seems to have been a 
voluntary one, is of much later date, — ^that, namely, of Breacan, 
of which we have but the following short account : — 

Breacan was the son of Maini^ son of Niall of the Nine Hos- 
tages, monarch of Erinn, whose reign closed a.d. 405. This 
Breacan was a great merchant, and the owner of fifty Curaclis^ 
trading between Ireland and Scotland. On one of his voyages he 
was, we are told, with his fifty Curachs^ swallowed up in the 
great whirlpool formed by the confluence of the north-western 
and north-eastern seas with the channel between Ireland and 
Scotland. His fate, however, was not exactly known until 
Ltighaidh^ the blind poet, in many years after, paid a visit to 
Bennchuir [Bangor, — on the coast of the county of Down]. 
The poet's people having strayed from the town down to the 
beach, foimd the bleached skull of a small dog on the shore. 
This they took up, carried to the poet, and asked him what 
skull it was. "Lay the end of the poet's wand on the skull", said 
Litghaidh; and then, pronouncing some mystical sentences in the 
ancient Teinim Laeah style, he told them that the skull was 
that oiBreacaris little dog, and that Breacan himself, with all his 
curachs and people, had been drowned in the Coir^ Breacain 
(orBreacan'sCauldron), — an appropriate name,fromthe constant 
boihng up and surging of the whirlpool, and the name by which 
it contmued ever alter to be known in ancient Gaedhlic writings. 

This story is preserved in Connac's Glossary, compiled in the 
ninth century, and in the Dmnsenchas, a much older compila- 
tion generally. 

The next class of tales, of which an example offers itself to 
our notice, is that of the Toghla, or Destructions. A Tdghaily 
or Destruction of a Fort, is the title given to those histories 



LECT. xiL which detail the taking of a fort or fortified palace or habita- 
tion, by force, when tne place is not merely taken, but also 
Toamj^oT bumt or destroyed on the taking of it. A Tdghail may be a 
ttoM"™aJie taking by surprise, or it may be a taking after a siege, but the 
tiM^ofthi *®^"^ always implies the destruction of the buildings taken. 
BrvighMn Of the TdgMa but a few are named in the list I have referred 
^* to in the Book of Leinster, though many others, of course, 
there were. Of those in the list, the most remarkable, perhaps, 
is that of the BruigKean Da Derga^ or court of Da Derga; 
because it was in the storming and surprise of that residence 
that the great Conairi M6r was killed, one of the most cele- 
brated kings of ancient Erinn. This tract possesses, too, a pe- 
culiar interest for those who reside in or near Dublin, because 
the scene of the surprise Ues near the city, at a place which still 
preserves a portion of the ancient name in its present designa- 
tion. And it is partly on this account that I have selected the 
account of the Tdghail BruwhrU Da Derga to describe to you. 
In the year of the world 5091, Conairi M6r, the son of 
Eidersgelj a former monarch of Erinn, ascended the throne, and 
ruled with justice and vigour, until the year of the world 5160, 
that is, tiu thirty-three years before the Incarnation of our 
Lord, according to the chronology of the Four Masters. 

The impartiaUty and strictness of ConairS'a rule banished 
from the country large numbers of idle and insubordinote per- 
sons, and among the rest his own foster-brothers, the four sons 
of Donndesa^ a great Leinster chief. These young men, adven- 
turous and highly gifted, impatiently put out, with a large party 
of followers, upon the sea between Erinn and Britain, for the 
purpose of leading a piratical Ufe, until the death of the 
monarch or some other circumstance should occur that might 
permit their return to their country. 

While thus beating about, and committing depredations ai 
both sides of the channel whenever they could, they met, 
engaged in similar enterprises, the yoimg prince Ingel, a son of 
the Hng of Britain, who with his six brothers and a numerous 
band of desperate men like themselves had been for their mis- 
deeds banished from his territory by their father. Both parties 
entered into a compact of mutual risk and assistance; and 
having, according to agreement, first made a night descent on 
the coast of Britain, where they committed great ravages and 
carried off much booty, they turned towards Erinn, for the pur- 
pose of adding to their stock of plunder, and carrying on the war 
of depredation evenly between both countries. They landed 
in the bay of Tuirbhe [Turvey] (near Malahide, on the coast of 
the present county of Dublin), and immediately commenced 


Aeir devastation of the country, by fire and sword, in the lect. xtt. 
direction of Tara. ^o ^^ ^^^ 

At this time, the monarch ConairS, attended by a slender tocrl.^ or 
retinue, was on his return from north Munster, where he had tiolli?\^°crhe 
been to effect a reconciliation between two hostile chiefs of that tiJJf of the 
country. On his entering Meath, and approaching his palace ^'^^*««» 
of Tara, he saw the whole country, to his great surprise, wrapt * *'^^'' 
in fire, and thinking that a general rebeUion against the law 
had taken place in his absence, he ordered his charioteer to 
turn to the right from Tara, and drive towards Dublin. The 
charioteer obeyed, and drove by the hill of Ceama^ Lusk, and 
the Great Road of Cualann to Dublin ; which, however, the 
monarch did not enter, but crossing the Liffey above the town, 
he continued his route to the court, or mansion, of the great 
Bruahaidh (or Hospitaller), Da Derga. 

This court was built on the river Dodder, at a place which 
to this day bears the name oi Bothar-na-Bruighni (or the Road 
of the Court), near Tallaght, in the county of Dublin. This 
was one of the six great houses of universal hospitality which 
existed in Erinn at the time, and the owner, Da Derga, hav- 
ing previously partaken largely of the monarch's bounty, he 
was now but too glad to receive him with the hospitality and 
distinction which became his rank and munificence. 

In the mean time, continues the tale, the outlaws having 
missed the monarch, ravaged all Bregia [the eastern part of 
Meath], before they returned to their vessels, and then steered 
to the headland of Beann Edair (now called the Hill of Howth), 
where they held a council of war. There it was decided that 
two of the sons of Donndesa (two of the monarch's foster- 
brothers), should come on shore, and find out the monarch's re- 
treat, they having already discovered the course he had taken 
fi-om Tara. This was done, and the scouts having returned to 
the fleet with the information sought, the piratical force landed 
somewhere south of the mouth of the Liffey, and marching over 
the rugffed Dublin mountains, they surrounded Da Derga's 
court, wnich, in spite of a stout resistance, they destroyed and 
plundered, murdering the monarch himself and the chief part 
of his slender train of attendants. 

The composition of this tract must be referred to a period of 
very remote antiquity, the style of the construction and language 
being more ancient even than the Tain B6 Chuaiigne, and, Ukc 
that difficult piece, of a character totally beyond the power of 
ordinary Irish scholars to reduce to anything like a correct 

This tract is one of considerable length, and not a little im- 

17 B 


LBCT. XII. bued Vfith. the marvellous ; but, apart &om its value as in essen* 
zp Of the ^^ * truthful link in our national history, it contains, perhaps 
T.>oHLA, or without exception, the best and most copious illustrations in any 
tio^^ah© tract now extant (I mean, of course, illustrations by description) 
tion1?SS ^^ ^^ various ranks and classes of the officers that composed the 
^*^f«»» king's household in ancient times, and of the arrangements of & 
^ ' regal feast — ^both social subjects of great historical mterest. 

There is a fine copy of this tract (with a slight imperfection 

at the beginning) preserved in the ancient Leabnar na h- Uidhrij 

in the Royal Lisn Academy; and another copy less copious, 

but perfect at the beginning and the end, in the Jbeabhar JbuidM 

Lecan, in the Library ofT-CD.; so that from both these 

sources a perfect copy could be procured. 

Tbe "Des. Another of these Toghla, and one of great interest, is the 

trocttonof Xffgji^ii Bruighni Da Choga, of which a good copy is to be 

*^„^ found in MS. H. 3. 18. Trinity College, Dublin. 

The Bruighean Dd Choga was in the present county of West- 
meath ; and it was on the occasion of a sudden surprise of this 
Court that Comuic Conldngeas was killed, about a.d. 33. He 
was the son of the celebrated Conor Mac Nessa, king of Ulster, 
from whose court he had several jears before gone mto volun- 
tary banishment into Connacht, m consequence of his father's 
having put to death the three sons of Uisneach^ for whose safety 
Cormac had pledged his word, when they consented to return 
to Conor's court at the king's invitation. On the death of 
Conor, his son prepared to return, to assume the throne of his 
province, and it was on his way back that he lost his life, in 
the surprise of Dd CogcCs court, where he had stopped to rest 
on his road. Cormac Conloingeas was one of the most celebrated 
champions of his time, and figures in many of the detailed his- 
tories of events recorded at this period of our annals. 

40 Of the The chronological order of the specimens of tales that I have 
"ibmg^inr. Selected leads us next to the class called Airgne, or Slaughters. 
The Argaifif though separated by the writer in the Book of 
Leinster from the Tdghail, is not, in fact, well to be distin- 
guished from it. The word signifies the Slaughter of a garrison 
of a fort, where the place is taken and destroyed. So the 
taking of Dinn Righ by Labhraidh Loingseach, described in the 
tract I spoke of just now, is called, in the Book of Leinster, 
Argain IHnn Righ, and that tract may perhaps actually be the 
tale there so named. 

There are a great number of the Airgni named In the 
ancient list so often referred to, and of these several have 
reached us in one shape or another. One of them, the Argain 


Cathrach BdirehS is included in the long tract the Cathreim lbct. m. 
Chonghail ChUdringnighy or Battles of Conghal Clarinffneach, .©ofth 

The Destruction of Cathair Boirchi forms but a single inci- AiftoKk; nf 
dent in the career of the warrior Congal, and I may in a few words '^"^^**" 
introduce to you the causes that led to so fatal a catastrophe. e«of c^i^o/ 

Lughaidh LttaighnS, of the Eberean line, assumed the mo- ciaring- 
narchy of Erinn in the year of the world 4024 ; and, in dis- ** ^' 
posing of the petty kingships of the provinces, he imposed two 
tings on the province of Ulster, to one of whom, Conghal Clar' 
ingneachy the son of a former monarch, he gave the southern, 
and to Fergus Mac Leid4, the northern half of the province. 

The Ulstermen soon began to feel the weight of two royal 
establishments, and a secret meeting of their cmefs took place at 
Emania, at which it was resolved to invite both their kings to a 
great feast, for the purpose of having them assassinated, and 
then to elect one kmg from among themselves, whom they 
would support by force of arms against the Monarch, should he 
feel dissatisfied with their deed. 

The feast was soon prepared, the two kings seated at it, and 
the assassins, who were selected from the menials of the chiefs, 
took up a convenient position outside the banqueting house. 

By this time, however, the knowledge of the conspiracy had 
reached the ears of Fachtna JFinn, the chief poet of Ulster ; 
whereupon he, with the other chief poets of the province, who 
attended the feast, arose from their particular places, and seated 
themselves between the two kin^. The assassins entered the 
house shortly after, but seeing the position of the poets, they 
held back, unwilling to desecrate their sacred presence, or 
violate their too obvious protection. 

When the prince Congal saw the assassins, he suspected their 
design, and asked the poet if his suspicions were not well* 
founded. Fachtna answered in the a£&mative, and stated the 
cause of the conspiracy ; whereupon Congal stood up, and ad- 
dressing the assembled chiefs, offered, on the part of himself and 
his coUea^e, to surrender their power and dignity into the 
hands of the monarch again, with a request that he would set 
up in their place the person most agreeable to the Ultonians. 

The chie& agreed, and the poets taking the two kings under 
their inviolable protection, they aU repaired to Tara, where 
they soon arrived, and announced the object of their visit. 

On their arrival at Tara, the monarch s daughter fell in love 
with Fergus Mac LeidS, and at her request, backed by the re- 
commencmtion of the provincial kings who then happened to be 
at court, the monarch appointed him sole king of Ulster, though 
such a decision was against an ancient law, which ordained that, 


LECT.xu. a junior should not be preferred to a senior, — and Congal was 

40 Of the ^^^®^ ^*^ Fergus. 

AiKGSK, or Congal, on hearing this decision, departed immediately from 
(TiTJ'*^'***^* Tara, collected all the disaffected of the country about him, to- 
enttci^ai g^^^^ ^ith somc Scottish exiles, and having met the monarch's 
ciaring. gou, cut ofT his head and bid defiance to the father. He was, 
^* howerer, soon forced to leave Erinn with his adherents; and 
his adventures in the island of i2acAZatnn, and in Denmark and 
other northern countries, form a considerable and most interests 
ing part of his career. After some years, however, he returned 
to his native country, and landed in the present bay of Dun- 
drum (cotmty Down). Immediately upon ms coming ashore, he 
discovered mat his rival, Fergus Mac LeidS, was at that time 
enjoying the hosmtalities of Cathair Boirchi (that is, Boirch^s 
Stone Castle or Fortress), the princely residence of Eochaidh 
SalbhuidhSy chief of the southern part of the present county of 
Down, at a short distance from Congal's landing place. 

On receiving this welcome piece of information, Congal 
marched directly to Cathair Boirchi, and surprised and de- 
stroyed it with all that were in it. From thence he went straight 
to Tara, and challenged the king with all his forces to a pitched 
battle. The battle was fought in the immediate neighbourhood 
of Tara ; the monarch was defeated and beheaded by Congal, 
who was proclaimed in his place, and reigned fifteen years. 

The only copy of this fine historic tale that I am acquainted 
with, is preserved in the library of the Royal Irish Academy. 
[No. 205, Hodges and Smith Collection.] 
ThQ Aitheach But the tale which I should prefer to take for you as a spe- 
•^aIS^oS?'. cimen of the Airgni, is one which recites the origin of one of 
the most momentous troubles which interrupt the course of our 
history; I mean the Revolt of the Aitheach Tuaiha (or "Atta- 
cots"), in the early part of the first century, an incident of which 
I have already shortly spoken. This tract is that which is en- 
tered in the list in the Book of Leinster as the Argain Chairpri 
Cinn-Cait for Saerclannaibh h-Erenn; that is, the Murder by 
Carbry Cat-head of the Noble claims of Erinn. 

The revolution and reign of the Aitheach Tuaiha Q^Attacotti"^ 
or "Attacots", as they have been called in English writings), 
mark an era in Irish history, more interesting, perhaps, than 
important in relation to the consequences of their rule ; and the 
name riven to these people has supplied food for much learned 
discussion and speculation, to writers of more modem times. 

Father John Lynch (better known as Gratianus Lucius)^ 
General Vallancey, the Rev. Charles O'Conor, and many others 
of their times, have been more or less puzzled by the name *'At- 


tacots*", and have sought everywhere for an explanatioB of it LEcr.xn. 
but where only it could be found, namely, in the language o£ ^ 
the country in which it originated, and in which those people aiboxe, or 
grew, lived, and died. ^ ^ 'mSRellSt 

The name which those modem writers have made into "At- ^^^' 
tacots", from the Latinized form "Attacotti", is written in all or '• Atta- ' 
Irish manuscripts, ancient and modem, Aitheach Tuatha^ and ^ 
this means nothing^ more than simply the Rent-payers, or Rent* 
pajring Tribes or Jreople. 

It is also stated, by even our very latest historic writers, that 
the Aitheach Tuatha were the descendants of the earlier colo- 
nists, depressed and enslaved by their conquerors, the Milesians. 
But this is a mistake, for, according to the Books of Ballvmote 
and Lecain, the revolutionists were not composed, even K>r the 
major part, of the former colonists, but of the Milesians them- 
selves. For, as may be expected, in the lapse of ages countless 
numbers of noble and free Milesian families fell away from their 
caste, lost their civil independence, and became mixed up and 
reduced to the same level with the remnants of the conquered 
races, who still continued, in a state nearly allied to slavery, 
tiUers of the soil. 

At the time of this revolution, which took place about the 
middle of the first century of the Christian era, the magnates of 
the land seem to have combined to lay even heavier burdens 
than ever before on the occupiers and tillers of the soil ; and the 
debased Milesians were the first to evince a disposition to re- 
sistance. Combinations were afterwards formed between them 
and the other malcontents, but so profoundly secret, that during 
the three years which they took to consider and mature their 
plans, not one of their intended victims had received the faintest 
hint of the plot that ripened for their destruction. 

The result of their councils was, to prepare a great feast, to 
which, as a pretended mark of respect and gratitude, they were 
to invite the monarch, the provincial kings, and the great chiefs 
of the nation, really for the purpose of destroying them during 
the convivial excitement ana unsuspicious confidence of a reg^ 
banquet of the old times. 

The feast was prepared at a place since called Magh Cru (or 
the Bloody Plain), in Connacht. Thither came the monarch, 
kings, and chiefs, in the full flow of unreserved security, — a se- 
cunty , as it befell, of the falsest kind ; for, when the nobles were 
deep in their cups, and plunged in the enjoyment of the deli- 
cious strains of the harp, treacherous hosts surroimded the ban- 
quet haU with men in armour, and slew without pity or remorse 
the monarch, fiacha Finnolaidh^ the provincial kings, and 
all the assembled chiefs, as well as all their train. 


LECT.xn. The revolutionary party having thus, at one blow, got rid of 
40 Of the ^ *^^^ ^^^ taskmasters, but still wishing to live under a more 
AzxoMs, or lenient monarchical government, proceeded to select a king. 
(^"livSt Their choice fell on CairbrS Cinn-Cait, an exiled son of the 
% aehrJ^uk!^ ^^ ^^ J^chlainn (or Scandinavia), who had taken a leading 
or ** Atur part in the plan and completion of the revolution. 
** CairbrS^ however, diea in the fifth year of an tmprosperous 

reign, and Fiacha Finnolaidhj of the royal Eremonian race, suc- 
ceeded to the sovereignty. Against Fiacha^ however, another 
revolt of the provinces took pkce, and he was surprised and 
murdered at Maah Bolg in Ulster, in the year of our Lord 56 ; 
and Elim Mac Canrach, king of Ulster (of the Rudrician race 
of Ulster), was elected by the revolutionists in his place. The 
rei^ of Elim also proved unfortunate, for, not only did discord 
and discontent prevail throughout the land, but the gifts of 
Heaven itself were denied it, and the soil seemed to have been 
struck with sterility, and the air of Heaven charged with pesti- 
lence and death during those years. 

The old loyalists and friends of the former dynasties took 
advantage at once of the confusion and general consternation 
which seized on the minds of the people, and proposed to them 
to recal or rather to invite home Tuathal, the son of the mur- 
dered monarch, whose mother had fled from the slaughter to the 
house of her father, the king of Scodand, while TucUhal as 
some writers say was yet unborn. 

This proposal was very generally listened to, and a great 
mmiber of the Aitheach Tuatha agreed in council to bring over 
the young prince, who was now in his twenty-fifth year. 

Tuathal answered the call, and soon afler landed in Bregia 
[Meath], where he unfurled his standard, and was immediately 
joined by several native cliiefe, with all their followers. From 
this he marched upon Tara, but was met by the reigning mo- 
narch, Elim, at Acaill (now the hill of Screen), near Tara, in 
the county of Meath, where a fierce battie was fought, in 
which at length the reigning monarch, Elim, was slain, and a 
great slaughter made of his adherents. 

And thus the ancient dynasty was once more established, and 
continued, substantially unbroken, down to the final overthrow 
of our monarchy, in the twelfth century. 

There is a detailed, but not very copious account of the 
massacre of Magh Cru, preserved m a MS. (H. 3. 18.) in 
Trinity College, Dublin. 

The next class of the Historic Tales consists of the Forbasa, 
or Sieges. The Forbais may be called a Siege, because it im- 


plies a regular investment of a position, or of a city, or forti- lect.xh. 
Bed place of residence. The name is generally, though i^ot^o^^^ 
always, applied to those sieges which were followed by the cap- fobbasa, or 
ture, or, at least, the plunder of the place invested. That crhe^sfege 
capture, as I have already explained to you, would be called jtoStJf^; ^^ 
Toghailj if the place were destroyed If only besieged, the 
event would be a Forbais; but a Toghail, or storming, might, 
of course, take place, without being preceded by a Forbais. 
These distinctions the student will do well to observe, in apply- 
ing himself to the branch of historical literature now imder our 

Of the Forbasa^ or Sieges, the example I shall take shall be 
the Forbais Edair, or Siege of Howth, — again selecting a story 
the scene of which lies near this city. 

In the more ancient times in which the events recorded in 
the tracts I notice to-day took place, and, indeed, down to a 
comparatively late period, it was customary, — I may premise 
by telling you, — ^for distinguished poets and bards (who were 
also the philosophers, lawyers, emd most educated men of their 
day) to pass from one province into another, at pleasure, on a 
circuit, as it may be called, of visits among the kings, chiefs, and 
nobles of the country ; and, on these occasions, they used to re- 
ceive rich gifts, in return for the learning they communicated, 
and the poems in which they sounded the praises of their patrons 
or the condemnation of their enemies. Sometimes the poet's visit 
bore also a political character ; and he was often, with diplomatic 
astuteness, sent, by direction of his own provincial kmg, into 
another province, with which some cause of quarrel was sought 
at the moment. On such occasions he was instructed not to be 
satisfied with any gifts or presents that might be offered to him, 
and even to couch his refusals in language so insolent and sar- 
castic as to provoke expulsion if not personal chastisement. 
And, whenever matters proceeded so far, then he returned to 
his master, and to him transferred the indi^ties and injuries 
received by himself, and publicly caUed on nim, as a matter of 
personal honour, to resent them. And thus, on occasions where 
no real cause of dispute or complaint had previously existed, an 
ambitious or contentious kin^ or chief found means, in those 
days just as in our own, to pick what public opinion regarded 
as an honourable quarrel witk his neighbour. 

A curious instance of the antiquity of this practice in Erinn, 
will be foimd in the very ancient but little known tract of 
which I shall now proceed to offer you a short sketch. It con- 
tains besides, I should however tell you, a great deal of other 
valuable matter illustrative of the manners and customs of a 



LECT,xn. very early period : and it may be taken as a fair spedmen of the 
go ^^^^ important class of those Historic Tales which I have referred to 
FokBASiL, or imder the title of Forbaaa. 

(The^iego There lived in Ulster in the time of King Conor Mac Nessa, 
HowS^; ^^ ^^* ^s» about A J). 33, a learned poet, but withal a virulent 
satirist, named Aithim4, better known in our ancient writings 
as Aithimi Ailghesachy or ^^Aitliime the Importunate*'; and he 
received this surname from the fact that, he never asked for a 
gift or preferred a request, but such as it was especially difficult 
to give, or dishonourable to grant. 

At this time the Ultonians were in great strength, and the 
valour of the champions of the Royal Branch had filled Brinn 
with their fame, and themselves and their province with arro- 
gance and insolence. They had already enriched themselves 
with the preys and spoils of Connacht, and they had beaten the 
men of Leinster in the battle of Ros na High, and extended 
the boundary of the northern province from the river Boyne 
southwards to the High (or river Rye, the boundary between 
the present counties of Meath and Dublin). They had also 
made a sudden and successful incursion into Munster, des- 
troyed the ancient palace of Teamhair Luachra, from which 
they returned home with great spoils. So that, having in this 
manner shown their power and superiority over the other pro- 
vinces, they were restless to undertake some yet more ambi- 
tious enterprise ; and, losing all self-restraint, they seem to have 
proposed to themselves no object but the one, to find an enemy 
to fight with, no matter where, and for any cause, no matter 
what it might be. 

In this embarrassment of the Ultonians, AithimSy the poet, 
determined to relieve their languor by raising a still more se- 
rious quarrel, if possible, than ever, between them and some one 
of the other provinces. Accordingly, though not without the 
consent and approval of king Conor Mac Nessa, the poet set out 
upon a round of visits to the other provincial kings, resolved 
that his conduct and demands should be so insulting and ex- 
travagant that they should be forced to visit him with some 
gross indignity or personal punishment, such as might give 
him cause for pouring out upon them the most satirical strains 
of his venomous tongue, as well as make it incumbent on his 
province to demand and take satisfaction for the insult offered 
them in his person. 

He went first into Connacht, but the kings and chiefs of 
that province granted freely even his most unreasonable de- 
mands, sooner wan be drawn into a war with Ulster by a refusal. 
From Connacht Aithim^ passed to the kingdom of Mid- 


Erinn (comprehending the south of Connacht and the north LEcx.xn. 
of Munster or Thomond, and extending, it is said, within nar- ^^ 
row limits, from the bay of Galway to Dublin). The king of fobbasa,<w 
this territory at the time was Eochaidh Mac Luchta, whose re- c^e^i'ege 
sidence lay on the brink of the present Loch Derc, in the Upper ho^^.*{ ^' 
Shannon (somewhere, I believe, between Scarin, in the county 
of Clare, and the present Mountshannon Daly, on the south- 
eastern border of the coimty of Galway). This ting, whose hos- 
pitaUty and munificence were proverbial, had the misfortune to 
be blind of an eye, and the malignant satirist knowing that no 
demand on his riches, however exorbitant it might be, would be 
refused, determined to demand from him that which he was most 
certain could not be granted. He, therefore, demanded the king s 
only eye. To his great surprise and disappointment, Eochaidh 
Mac LitJuMa (so goes the story) suddenly thnist his finger^into the 
socket of his eye, tore it out by the roots, and handed it to ^e 
poet ! The king then commanded his servant to lead him down 
to the lake to wash his face and staunch the blood ; but fear- 
ing that perhaps he had not been able to extract ihe eye, he 
asked his servant if he had really given it to the poet. Alas ! 
said the servant, the lake is red with the blood of your red eye. 
That shall be its name for ever, said the king. Loch Derg- 
dheirc, or the Lake of the Red Eye, — (the present Loch Derg, 
above Killaloe, on the^Shaonon). 

[Let me here observe, in a parenthesis, that I should npt, per- 
haps, have gone into this minor, though curious detail, but that 
more modem writers of family Irish history have endeavoured 
to make Eochaidh, the ancestor of the O'Sullivan family, to be 
the person who granted his only eye to the demand of a ma- 
licious Scotch poet, and that it is from that circumstance that 
the name OSuilahhain — ^that is, the one-eyed, — is derived. But 
there are two objections to the truthfulness of this version of the 
story ; the first is, that the tale I have just noticed is certainly 
older than the time of this latter Eochaidh; the second objec- 
tion is, that if this were the derivation of the name, it should 
be written with the letter m, instead of the i, which is always 
found in it : that is, the word should be Suilamhain (or " one 
eye"), and not Suilabhain, as it is generally (but not always) 
written in the ancient MSS. The fact, however, is, that both 
these spellings are incorrect, and that the family name, in the 
best authorities, is written CSuildhubhain, or the Black-eyed.] 

But to return to the tract under notice. 

Our poet next crossed the Shannon into south Munster, to 
the palace of Tighemach Tetbannach^ the king of that province 
[from whom Cam Tighernaigh (on a mountam near Kathcor- 


LECT.xn. mac, in the county of Cork) in wticli he lies buried, has its 
fiooftht Jiame.] The kings of all these territories submitted to the 
F0BBA8A, or deepest insults sooner than incur the poet's virulent abuse and 
(The '♦Siege the enmity 01 his provmce. 

howSt *' Aithimi, therefore, proceeded on his circuit from Munster 
into Leinster, and came to a place called Ard BrestinS, in the 
present county of Carlow. Here the people of South Lein- 
ster, with their king, Fergus Fairrgi^ met him in assembly 
with large and valuable presents, in order to induce him not to 
enter their territory. The poet refiised to accept any of the 
rich gifts that were offered him, until he should be given the 
richest present or article in the assembly. This was a sore 
puzzle to them, because they could not well discover which 
was the best of their valuables. Now while they were in this 
dilemma, there happened to be a young man, mounted on a 
fleet steed, careering for his amusement, in presence of the 
assembly; — and so close sometimes to where the king sat, that, 
on one occasion, while wheeling round at full speed, a large 
clod of earth flew from one of the hind-legs of his steed, and 
fell in the king's lap. The king immediately perceived a large 
and beautiful gold brooch imbedded in the clod ; and, turning 
joyfully to the poet, who sat next him, he said: "What have 
I got in my lap?" "You have got a brooch", said Aith- 
imi, " and that brooch is the present that will satisfy me, be- 
cause it was it that fastened the cloak o( Maini Mac JJurthacht, 
my mother's brother, who buried it in the ground here at the 
time that he and the Ultonians were defeated by you in the 
battle of Ard BreatinS", The brooch was then given to Aith- 
im^y after which he took his departure from South Leinster, 
and came to Naas, where Mesgedhra^ the supreme king of all 
theprovince of Leinster, then resided. 

The poet was hospitably received by this king, at whose 
court he remained twelve months, and he was loaded with rich 
gifls by the king himself, and the chiefs of North Leinster. 
The more he got, however, the more insolent and importunate 
he became, until at last he insisted on getting seven hundred 
white cows with red ears, a countless number of sheep, and 
one hundred and G£tj of the wives and daughters of the Lein- 
ster nobles, to be carried in bondage into Ulster. 

To all these tyrannical demands the Leinster men submitted 
in appearance, but with a grace and condescension that fore- 
boded anything but good to the penetrating eyes of the poet. 
Satisfied that the men of Leinster, who felt themselves restramed 
by the public law of hospitality within their own territory, would, 
when he had passed out of it, follow and deprive him of all his 


ill-gotten property, perhaps even of his life, he therefore sent a LEcr.xn. 
messenger into Ulster, demanding of king Conor to send a strong ^^ ^ ^^^ 
body oi men to the confines of jLeinster, to receive and escort fobbaba, or 
him and his property, as soon as he should pass across the crh?^siego 
border of that province. HoitS'o! '''' 

When the poet's time for departure came at last, he set out 
from Naas with all his rich presents, his cattle, and his captives, 
attended by a multitude of the men of Leinster, apparently but 
to see him safely out of their country. When they came to 
Dublin, however, they found that the poet's sheep could not cross 
the river jL(fe [or Lmey] at the ordinary ford ; upon which, a 
number of the people went into the neighbouring woods, and set 
to work to cut down the trees and branches ; so that, in a very 
short time, they were able to throw a bridge, or causeway, of 
trees and hurdles across the river, by means of which the poet, 
his cattle, and train, passed over into the province of Meath, 
the Liffey being at tms time the boundary Ime of Leinster and 
Meath at this point. 

(The point of the river over which this bridge of hurdles was 
thrown was, at this time, called Dubhlinn^ literally the " Black 
Pool" (but in fact so called from a lady named Dubh, who had 
been formerly drowned there) ; but firom this time down it took 
the name oi Ihtbhlinn Atha Cliath, or the Black Pool of the 
Ford of Hurdles; and this ford, I have no doubt, extended 
firom a point at the Dublin side of the river, where the Doihor 
[or Deader] falls into die Liffey at Rings-End, to the opposite 
side, where the Poll-hea Lighthouse now stands. The Danish 
and EnffUsh name Dublin is a mere modification of Dubhlinn, or 
Black's I^ool, but the native Irish have always called, and still do 
call, the city of DubUn Ath Cliath, or BaiU Atha Cliath — that 
is, the Ford of Hurdles, or the Town of the Ford of Hurdles.) 

No sooner had Aitldmi crossed the Ford of Hurdles than 
the Leinster men rapidly rescued their women ; but before they 
had time to turn their cattle, the Ultonian escort, which had 
previously arrived and encamped at the mouth of the river TuU 
ehlainn [or Tolcal 

upon them. A 

, a short distance from the ford, rushed down 
cattle ensued, in wtich the Ultonians were 
routed, and forced to retreat to Beann Edair (now called the 
Hill of Howth), to which place, however, they succeeded in 
carrying with them the seven himdred cows. Here they threw 

Xon a sudden, a strong earthen fortification, which was ever 
rwards called Dun Aithimi, or Aithimffs fort, and within 
which they took shelter with their prey ; and they sent forthwith 
for further reinforcements to the north, and continued, in the 
meanwhile, to act on the defensive imtil their arrival 


LBCT. XII. The Leinstermen encamped in front of them, cut off their 

Of the communication with the country, and brought them to great 

FouBASA, or distress. After some time, however, the flower of the cham- 

cnle^l'ego pions of the Royal Branch arrived suddenly at Howth, attacked 

Howtho***^ the Leinstermen, and routed them with considerable slaughter; 

so that, with their king Mesgedhra^ they fled towards their own 

coimtry. Then Conall Ceamach^ the most distinguished of the 

heroes of the Royal Branch, followed the Leinstermen with his 

chariot and charioteer, alone ; in order to take vengeance on 

certain of them for the death of his two brothers, Mesdeadad 

and Laeghairi^ who had been skin at this siege of Howth. He 

Biased over the ford of hurdles, through Drummainech (now 
rimnagh), and on to Naas; but the army had ahready dis- 
persed, and the king had not yet reached his court 

Conall pressed on from Naas to Claen, where he found Mes- 
gedkra^ at last, at the ford of the Liffey. A combat imme« 
diately ensued between them, in which Meagedhra was slain 
and beheaded. Conall placed the king's head in his own chariot, 
and ordering the charioteer to mount the royal chariot, they set 
out northwards. They had not gone far, however, when they 
met MeagedhrcHs queen, attended by fifty ladies of honour, return- 
ing from a visit in Meath. " Who art thou, O woman ?" said 
Conall. "I am MeigedKrds wife", said she. " Thou art com- 
manded to come with me", said Conall. " Who has commanded 
me ?" said the queen. " Mesgedhra has", said Conall. " Hast thou 
brought me any token?" said the queen. *' I have brought his 
chariot and his horses", said Conall. " He makes many presents", 
said the queen. '* His head is here, too", said Conall. " Then I 
am disengaged", said she. " Come into my chariot", said Conall. 
" Grant me liberty to lament for my husband", said the queen. 
And then she shrieked aloud her grief and sorrow with such 
intensity, that her heart burst, and she fell dead from her 

The fierce Conall and his servant made there a grave and 
mound on the spot ; in which they buried her, together with 
her husband s head, from which, however, according to a sin- 
gular custom hardly less barbarous than singular of which I shall 
say more presently, he had first extracted the brain. 

This queen's name was Buan^ or the Good [woman] ; and, 
after some time, according to a very poetical tradition, a beau- 
tiful hazel tree sprung up from her grave, which was for ages 
afl«r called Coll Buaiia^ or Buan's Hazel. The grave was situ- 
ated a short distance to the north of the Ford of Claen, on the 
ancient road which led from Naas to Tara, and may, perhaps, 
be known even at this day. 


Copies of this tract are preserved iq the Book of Leinster, lect. xii. 
and in a vellum MS. in the British Museum, Harl. 5280. ^o q^ ^^^ 

FoRB\8A, or 

Of the Forbasa listed in the Book of Leinster there is one (Thl^^siego 
more so remarkable, that I would make room for some account JfaJlJ^ 
of it, if it were possible — ^namely, the Forhais Droma Damh- Qhair^- 
ahairS, by king Cormac Mac Airt, against Fiacha MuilUathan^ 
King of Munster, about the year of our Lord 220. Drom 
Damh^hairi was the name of a ridge or hill in the county ol 
Limenck, since Cormac's time (and still) called Cnoc Luinqi^ 
or Knocklong, from the tents set up there by Cormac, who 
encamped upon the spot. The following is shortly the history 
of this Forbais: — 

Cormac's munificence was so boimdless that, at one time, his 
steward complained to him, that, although there were many 
claimants and objects of the royal beneficence, there was 
nothing for them, as all the revenues appropriated to such pur- 
poses were exhausted. Cormac, in this extremity, asked the 
steward's advice as to the best means of replenishing his stores. 
The steward, without hesitation, said that the only chance of 
so doinff was in demanding from Mimster the cattle revenue of 
a second province ; that it contained two distinct provinces, but 
that it had always escaped paying tribute but for one, and that 
he ought to call on them for the tribute of the other. 

Cormac appeared to be well pleased with this suggestion, and 
inunediately despatched couriers to Fiacha Muilleathain, the 
king of Munster, demanding tribute for the second division of 
that province. The king of Munster received the monarch's 
message in a fair spirit, and sent the courier back with an offer 
of ample relief of Cormac's present difficulties, but denjring his 
right of demand, and refusing to send a single beef in acknow- 
ledgment of it. Cormac havmg received this stubborn message, 
mustered a large army and all his most learned Druids, marched 
into the heart of Munster, and encamped on the hill then called 
Drom Damhghairiy or the " Hill of the Oxen". 

Having established his encampment, he consulted his Druids 
on the best and most expeditious means of bringing the men 
of Munster to terms. The Druids, after debate among them- 
selves, assured the monarch that the surest and most expedi- 
tious mode of reducing his enemies would be to deprive them 
and their cattle of water, and that this they were prepared to do 
on receiving his permission. Cormac immediately assented, and 
forthwith the Druids by their speUs and incantations dried up, 
or concealed, all the rivers, lakes, and springs of the district, so 
that both men and cattle were dying of thirst all round them. 


LECT. xn. Thekingof Munster in this extremity took counsel witbhispeo- 
6° Of the P^^» ^^^ *^^ decision they came to was, not to submit to Cormac, but 
FoEBAUA, or to send to the island oiDairbri [now caQed Oilian Darairi^ or 
(Th?^tege Valencia], on the western coast of Kerry, to Mogh Ruith, the most 
TaSS^ famous Druid of the time Twho is said to have studied Druidism 
ghaire^. in the Esst, in the great school of Simon Magus), to request that 
he would come and relieve them from the terrible distress, which 
they well knew had been brought on them by Druidic agency. 

The ancient Druid consented to come and relieve them, on 
condition that he should receive a territory of his own selection 
in that part of the province, with security for its descent in his 
family for ever. His demands were granted, and he selected 
the present barony of Fermoy in the county of Cork (where 
some of his descendants survive to this day, imder the names of 
O'Duggan, O'Cronin, etc.). The Druid then shot an arrow into 
the air, telling the men of Munster that water in abundance would 
spring up wherever the arrow should fall. This promise was 
verified ; a rushing torrent of water burst up where the arrow 
fell ; and the men of Munster and their flocks were relieved. 

The Munster men then fell upon Cormac and his hosts, routed 
them from Cnoc Luingi^ and followed them into Leinster, scat- 
tering and killing them as they went. 

The place in which the arrow fell is still pointed out in the 
parish of Imleaeh Grianan^ in the county of Limerick ; and the 
well remains still under the ancient name of Tohar (or Ttpra) 
Ceann nvnr, that is, Well of Great Head, or Spring; and 
a river that issues from it is called SnUh Cheanna mhoirj or 
the Stream of Great Head. 

This is a wild but most important story, full of information 
on topography, manners, customs, and Druidism. It is spoken 
of in several of our ancient books, but the only copy of it that I 
know to exist was preserved in the Book of Lismore, imtil that 
great book was mutilated in Cork many years ago ; and now there 
IS a portion of the original staves at Lismore and a portion at 
Cork ; but I have a full copy of both parts in my own possession. 

Short as I have made the outlines I have given you of these 
few specimens of the Historic Tales, I have been unable to 
compress within the present Lecture any intelligible account 
of thosfe classes of them which it is my business to bring under 
your notice. At our next meeting I shall, however, endeavour 
to complete this branch of the inquiry I have opened. 


CDeHTSnd Joa* 19, 1U6.] 

Trb Histobic Tales (continued). 6. Of the OittS, ^'Tragedies", or Deaths. 
The Story of the " Death of Conor Mac Neswi". The ** Death of Maelfa^ 
thartaighy the son of Bonan**. 7. Of the Tana, or Cow Spoils. The '' tain 
b6 Chuailgne\ 8. Of the Tochmarca, or Courtships. The "Courtship of 
Eimer'*t by the Champion Cuchullain. 9. Of the Uatha, or Caves. 10. Of the 
Echtrai, or Adventures. 11. Of the Sluaigheadha, or military expeditions. 
The ** Expedition of King Dathi to the foot of Sliabh n-Ealpa (the AlpsV'. 
12. Of the Imramha, or Expeditions by Sea. The '' Voyage of the Sons of 
Ua Corra\ Of the remaining classes of the Historic Tales. 

I ALMOST begin to fear you will set me down as a story-teller 
myself, and not a lecturer upon the grave subject of the Mate- 
rials of our Ancient History, before 1 shall have completed my 
intended notices of the pieces called Historic Tales. You must, 
however, always bear in mind that, so far as I have thought it 
right to enter mto the details of these stories, I have done so 
only for the purpose of making the Ghedhlic student as accu- 
rately acquainted with their plan and style as the nature of 
this general course may admit. I have, however, in no instance 
detaQed to you even any considerable part of any of these com- 
positions ; though they will, in fact, upon examination, be found 
to contain far more of valuable historical matter than I could 
make you familiar with, if I were even to devote the whole of 
these lectures to this subject alone. All that I have attempted 
to do is, to give you a sort of general idea by way of syn- 
opsis of the contents of a few of these tales; and I have 
selected, as specimens of them, those which appear to me most 
proper to serve as examples of the classes to which they re- 
spectively belong. 

The next class of the Historic Tales to which I have to ask 
your attention, is that of the Oitte or Aideadha, — " Tragedies", 
or Deaths. These stories are the narratives of violent Deaths, or 
of any melancholjr or tragical occurrences in which the Death of 
some remarkable individual forms a principal feature in the tale. 
From one of these OittS, or Aideadha, the ^^ Aideadh Conrur, 
Keating has introduced into his history the story of the death 
of Curoi Mac DairS, who was killed by the celebrated champion 



LECT. xni. Cuchulainn^ about the first year of the Christian era. But the 

Of th example I prefer to select is a more important one, because the 

oiTTB, or personage whose death is recorded in the tale was one of the 

crh?i>TOth * most remarkable men in all our history, — ^that Conor Mac Nessa, 

^^®'*^*®of whom I have already more than once spoken. This tale is 

also particularly interesting to Christians, as you will find, in 

respect of the immediate cause of the dearfi of the pagan king ; 

for, though there are several ancient versions of the story, the 

connexion of the disaster with the crucifixion of our Lord is 

uniformly recorded. This tale is mentioned in the list, in the 

Book of Leinster, as the Aideadh Chonchobhair^ and to some 

version of this story also Keating had recourse in the compilation 

of his history. The copy of the tale, the principal contents of 

which I am about shortly to narrate to you, is preserved in the 

Book of Leinster. 

Conor Mac Nessa was king of Ulster at the period of the Incar- 
nation of our Lord. He was the son otFachtna, king of the same 
province, but who was slain while Conor was yet an infant. 

Conor's accession to the provincial throne was more a matter 
of chance than of hereditary claim, because Fergus Mac Rossa 
was actually king at the time. Conor's mother, Nessa, (from 
whom he aerived the distinctive appellation of Mac Nessa,) 
was still a woman of youth and beauty, at the time that her 
• son came to be fifteen years of age, and Fergus, then the king 
of the province, proposed marriage to her. Nessa refused to 
accept his ofier, excepting on one condition — ^namely, that he 
should hand over the sovereignty of Ulster, for one year, to her 
son Conor, in order that his children after him might be called 
the children of a king. To this singular condition Fergus was 
but too glad to accede, and Conor accordingly took upon him 
the sovereignty of Ulster, which, young as he was, he adminis- 
tered with such wisdom, justice, and munificence, that, when 
the year was expired, and the time for resigning the kingly 
ofl&ce to its original holder had arrived, the ulstermen raised a 
formidable opposition to the act ; and, after much contention 
and diplomacy, the difficulty was disposed of by each one retain- 
ing wnat he nad, — ^Fergus his wife, and Conor the kingdom; 
and so, as we are informed by history, Conor continued long to 
rule the people of Ulster with wisdom and justice, to defend their 
rights with vigilance, and to avenge their wrongs with bravery, 
wnerever and whenever the encroachments of the neighbour- 
ing provincial powers required it. 

It was under ihe fosterage and example of this prince that 
the renowned order of knighthood, so well known in song and 
story as the Knights of the Royal Branch, sprang up in Ulster; 


and among the most distinguished of the order I may name to lect. xiii. 
you the celebrated Conall Cearnach^ Cuchulainn^ the sons of ^^ ^^^^ 
Uianeach (Naoisi, AinlS, and Ardan), Eoghan Mac Durthacht, oittk, or 
Dubhthach Duel Uladh^ and LaeghairS Buadhach^ as well as Cor- nSe d^S ' 
mac ConloingeoB (Conor's own son). NeSS?"^*^ 

One of those barbarous military customs which, in one form 
or another, prevailed in former times perhaps all over the world, 
and which have been preserved in some countries nearly down 
to our own days, existed in Erinn at this period. Whenever 
one champion slew another in single combat, it is stated tliat he 
cut off his head, if possible ; clove it open ; took out the brain ; 
and, mixing this with lime, rolled it up mto a ball, which he then 
dried, and placed in the armoury of his territory or province, 
among the trophies of his nation. 

As an instance of this strange custom, we have already seen, 
in the sketch of Aithimi^ the poet (in speaking of the Siege of 
Beann Edair^ or Howth), that, on that occasion, when the great 
Ulster champion, Conall Ceamach^ pursued Mesgedhra^ the 
king of Leinster, from Howth to Claena (in the present county 
of Kildare), where he overtook and fougnt him m single com- 
bat, he cut off the king's head after he had killed him, and 
extracted the brain. And, according to that story, it appears 
that after having put it through the usual process for hardening 
and preservation, he placed the ball formed of the royal brain . 
among the precious trophies of Ulster, in the great house of the 
Royal Branch at Emama, where it continued to be esteemed as 
an object of great provincial interest and pride. 

Now, Conor Mac Nessa, in accordance with the custom of 
the times, had two favourite fools at his court; and these silly, 
though often cunning, persons, having observed the great 
respect in which Mesgedhra's brain was held by their betters, 
ana wishing to enjoy its temporary possession, stole it out of 
the armoury and took it out to the lawn of the court, where 
th^ began to play with it as a common ball. 

While thus one day thoughtlessly engaged, Cet Mac Magach^ 
a famous Connacht champion, whose nation was at war with 
Conor Mac Nessa, happened to come up to them in disguise ; 
and perceiving, and soon recoffnizing, the precious ball which 
they were carelessly throwing nrom hand to hand, he had little 
dimculty in obtaining it from them. Having thus unexpectedly 
secured a prize of honour so valuable, Cet returned immediately 
into Connacht ; and as there was a prophecy that Mesgedhra 
would avenge himself upon the Ulstermen, he never went forth 
upon any border excursion or adventure without carrying the 
king's brain with him in his girdle, hoping by it to fulfil the 

18 b 


LE CT. xm, prophecy by the destruction of some important chief or cham- 
6° Of the P^^^ among the Ulster warriors. 

oiTTE, or Shortly after this time, Cet, at the head of a strong party of 

(Th™D?ath ' the men of Connacht, carried off a large prey and plunder from 
NeSSr *^" Southern Ulster ; but they were pursued and overtaken (at 
Baili-ath-an- Urchair, now Ardnurchar, in the present county 
of Westmeath) by the Ulstermen, under the command of the 
king himself [See Appendix, No. XC.]. Both sides halted 
on the banks oi a stream, which they selected as an appropriate 
battle-field, and prepared for combat. Cet soon discovered that 
the pursuit was led by king Conor; at once bethought him of 
the prophecy ; and inmiediately laid his plan for its fulfilment 
Accordingly, perceiving that a large number of the ladies of 
Connacht, who had come out to greet the return of their hus- 
bands, had placed themselves on a hill near the scene of the 
intended battle, he concealed himself among them. 

Now, at this time, when two warriors or two armies were 
about to engage in battle, it was the custom for the women, if 
any were present, of either party to call upon any distinguished 
chief or champion from the opposite side to approach them and 
exhibit himself to their view, that they might see if his beauty, 
dignity, and martial beanng were equal to what fame had 
reported them to be. 

To cany out his plan, then, Cet instructed the Connacht women 
to invite Conor himself to come forward, that they might view 
him. To this request Conor willingly assented in the spirit of 
the chivalry of the time ; but when he had come within a short 
distance of the presence of the ladies, on the corresponding emi- 
nence at his own side of the stream, Cet raised himself in their 
midst, and fixed Mesgedhra's brain in his Cranntabhaill, or 
sling. Conor perceived the movement, and recognizing at once 
a mortal enemy, retreated as fast as he could to his own people ; 
however, just as he was entering the little otovo of Doiri da 
Bhaeth, Cet^ who followed him closely, cast from the sling the 
ball made from the fatal brain, and succeeded in striking Conor 
with it on the head, lodging the ball in his skull. 

Conor's chief physicians were immediately in attendance, 
and after a long examination and consultation, they reported 
that it was not expedient to remove the ball ; and the royal 
patient was carriea home, where he was so well attended by 
them, that after some time he recovered his usual health and 
activity. He was, however, charged to be careful to avoid, 
among other things, all violent exercise, riding on horseback, 
and all excitement or anger. 

He continued thus for years to enjoy good health, until the 


very day of the Crucifixion, when, observing the eclipse of the lbct. mi. 
sun, and the atmospheric terrors of that terrible day, he asked ^ ^^^ 
Bacrachj his druid, what the cause of it was. oi™, or 

The druid consulted his oracles, and answered by informing ci^e^^ath * 
the king that Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, was at ^^y^"" 
that moment suffering at the hands of the Jews. " What crime 
has he committed?" said Conor. " None", said the druid. "Then 
are the slaying him innocently ?" said Conor. " They are", said 
the druid. Tnen Conor burst into sudden fiiry at the words, 
drew his sword, and rushed out to the wood oi LamhraidhS, 
which was opposite his palace door, where he began to hew 
down the young trees there, exclaiming in a rage : " Oh ! if I 
were present, it is thus I would cut down the enemies of the in- 
nocent man !" His rage continued to increase, until at last the 
fatal ball, which was lodged in his skull, started from its place, 
followed by the king's brain, and Conor Mac Nessa fell dead on 
the spot. This occurrence happened in the fortieth year of his 
reign ; and he has been counted ever since as the first man who 
died for the sake of Christ in Ireland. 

This curious tale seems to have always been believed by the 
Irish historians, and from a very early date. In one version of 
it, however (that in the Book of Leinster), it is stated that pro- 
bably it was not from his druid that Conor received the infor- 
mation concerning the crucifixion of our Lord, but from Altus, 
a Roman consul. 

Of these (Htti^ Aideadha^ or Tragedies, I may just mention ^j^i^Jg)*'^^ 
one other very curious one (also recorded in the Book o{ Mae\f other- 
Leinster). I mean the Aideadh Maeilfathartaigh Mic B&nain^ ^rSm!!^ 
or death of the Prince Maelfotharty, the son of Ronan, long of 
Leinster, about the year a.d. 610. 

This king had, as it is stated, married in his old age a very 
young northern lady, whom he brought home to his Leinster 
palace, there to see, for the first time, his son, with whom she 
unhappily fell in love. The prince refused and shunned her : 
and tne lady in reven^, alter sevenJ endeavours to procure his 
death, spoke to the king in such a manner as to excite his jea- 
lousy against his son, and enraged him so much that MaelfaOiar- 
iaigk was soon afterwards kiued with spears, himself and his 
grayhounds, in his father's house and by nis father's orders. 

The characters in this tale are all historical, and the tragedy 
is narrated, as well as the whole story of the causes that led to it, 
at full length. 

The next division of historical tales that I would have had to '^^J^^^ 
notice, would have been the Tana, or Cow Spoils; but as you "Cow- 


LECT. xni. have already had a specimen in one of which I gave you a 
70 Of the r^*l^®r copious description in a former lecture (I mean the Iain 
taha, or bd Chuailgniy which is indeed the chief of them), I shall pass 
spoib". them over for the present, and proceed to take up an example 
of another class of these tracts ; that, namely, which consists of 
8°. Of the stories of the more celebrated Tochmarca, or Courtships and 
OT ^"c^iSt-' Espousals, in ancient Irish history. Of this class of tales, one of 
coStibi^f ^'^ ^^s* remarkable, and the best preserved, is the Tochmare 
c^^^ ^emAiV^, — ^the tale of the Courtship of the g^at Ulster.champion 
***" * Cuchulainn and the lady Eimer, tne beautiful daughter of For- 
gall Monachy a nobleman who in his day held a court of gene- 
ral hospitality (similar to that of Da Derga before mentioned) 
at the place now called Lusk, in the county of Dublin. 

Of the champion Cuchulainn^ the hero of this tale, we have 
spoken at some length in a former lecture, when treating of the 
Tain bd Chiuiilgni. I need only add here that, according to all 
the accoimts, tne beauty and symmetry of his person are de- 
scribed to have been in full accordance with his noble carriage 
and bearing, and worthy of his precocious valour and renown. 
The men of Ulster, it appears, paid Cuchulainn a very pecu- 
liar compliment ; for, presided over by their famous king Conor 
Mac Nessa, they held a special assembly to devise the best means 
of providing for their young champion a partner for life, worthy 
of his rank in life, his manly perfections, and his personal and 
miHtary accomplishments. The decision to which they came 
was, to send envoys all over Erinn to visit the courts of the 
princes and nobles, in order to discover the most beautiful and 
accomplished lady among their daughters, so that Cuchulainn, 
in accordance with the custom of tnose times, should go and 
court her. 

In accordance with this decision, persons properly qualified 
for so dehcate a mission were sent forth from Emania (the palace 
of Ulster) ; but after an extensive and close search among the 
higher classes of the day, they returned home without being for- 
tunate enough to succeed in the object of their embassy, — ^in fact, 
Feramorz himself was not one of them. 

Cuchulainn, however, nothing dispirited by the failure of the 
solicitude of his friends in his behalf^ resolved to go and try his 
own success in a matter that concerned him so much, and which, 
after all, should depend for its final accomplishment on his own 
personal exaonination and approval ; and having heard, it would 
appear, of the beauty and accomplishments of the lady Eimer, 
he ordered his chariot, and, accompanied only by his faithful 
charioteer, Laegh, he set out from ifraania, and, passing by the 
many princely and noble mansions that lay in his journey, 


stopped not until he drew up on the lawn of the court of her lbct. xm. 
father, Forgall, at Lusk. 
] Here he had the good fortune to meet the beautiful object of tckjhmabca, 

^ his visit, in the pleasure-ground of the mansion, enjoying her Sip«"!*°cnie 

•^ customary sports, surrounded by the fair daughters of the neigh- 2?Si?^iy°^ 

bouring chiefs and men of Meath, whom she was accustomed to Qvckuiainn). 
p instruct in the lady accomplishments of the times (for the lady 

Eimer is stated to have been preeminently endowed with " six 
natural and acquired gifts, namely, the gift of beauty of person, 
the gift of voice, the gift of music, the gift of embroidery and 
all needlework, the gift of wisdom, ana the gift of virtuous 
chastity"). Cuchulainn immediately (but in an obscure style 
of speech) revealed his name and the reason of his unceremo- 
nious visit to Eimer; but the young lady declined to accept his 
addresses, alleffing as her only reason that she was a younger 
daughter; and then, launching forth in a strain of charmmg 
eloquence on the beauty, accomplishments, and virtues of her 
elder sister, she recommended her suitor to seek her father's 
consent for liberty to pay his court to that lady. Cuchulainn^ 
however, declined this recommendation, and not wishing to be 
seen by Eimer's father or brothers in private conversation with 
her, he soon after took a hurried leave, and departed for his home. 
^ Forgall soon came to hear of the visit of this remarkable and 

I unknown stranger to his daughter, and discovered at once from 

I his description who he was. Not desiring, however, to form an 

alliance with a professional champion, and knowing well that 
his designs on Eimer would be renewed, he immediately deter- 
mined on obstructing them. 

For this purpose, ne clad himself and two chosen attendants 
in the attire of Scandinavian messengers, and supplying himself 
with various articles of value, they went northwards to Emania, 
It and presented themselves at the court of King Conor, as mes- 

sengers sent to him with presents and gifts from the king of 
Scandinavia. The strangers were well received and highly feasted 
and honoured for three days, after which they were introduced 
to the chief heroes of the Royal Branch, such as ConaU Cear^ 
nachj Cuchulainn himself, and others, who showed them various 
specimens of their military education. Forgall bestowed great 
praise on the accomplishments of these celebrated warriors, but 
I remarked that there were some feats of arms in which they ap- 

peared to be deficient, and recommended the king to send them 
mto Scotland to finish their education at the great military 
academy of Dom/inall, the champion, and the Amazonian lady 

So warmly, and apparently so disinterestedly, did he press 


LECT. xm. this recommendation, that Cuchulainn made a vow (in a fbnn 

go Qjj^g of promise, from which, according to the laws of chivalry of the 

TocHMATOA, time, he could not recede), that he would forthwith set out for 

ahips"? (The Scotland, and not return as long as he could find any feat of 

SSS?,^^"' arms to learn, in which he happened to be then deficient. 

Cuchuiawm.) Forgall then took his leave of king Conor and his court, and 

returned home highly pleased with the success of his plan, as he 

had calculated that, should Cuchulainn fulfil his vow, he should 

never return, because he could never escape all the dangers that 

were sure to beset him in his travels. However, Cuchulainn 

paid a hasty but secret visit to his lady love, who, by this time, 

had become deeply enamoured of him, and, having told her of 

the vow he had made, and of his determination to fulfil it, they 

plighted mutual troth and constancy, and he went forth on his 


As Forgall atiticipated, Cuchulainn's journey was beset with 
dangers and difficulties of all kinds ; but those described in the 
tale are chiefly of the romantic and supernatural character. 
Although, nevertheless, the story at this point is especially en- 
riched with poetic embellishment, still the natural incidents 
with which it abounds, and the curious sketches of, or perhaps 
I should say, allusions to, the manners and customs of the date 
of society at a period so very remote (but with which the writer 
appears to have been familiar), both m Erinn and in Scotland, 
will make ample amends in information of the most solid cha- 
racter, for the exuberant display of the author's fancy, whoso- 
ever he may have been. 

But to continue: Cuchulainn, having finished his military 
education at the school of the lady Scathach, in Scotland, and 
having gained great renown by his superiority over his fellow- 
students, returned home by way of Ceann Tiri^ or the Land's 
Head [now Cantire, in Scotland!, paying a visit to the island of 
Rechrainn [now Rathlin], on the north-east coast of Erinn. 
Here he met with an incident, which, though not quite new in 
character to classical scholars, has, from the circumstances that 
produced it, a peculiar interest for the Irish historian. 

On putting mto a small bay in the island of Rechrainn, he, 
and the few Irish fellow-students who accompanied him, left 
their vessels, and, reaching the beach, were surprised to find a 
beautiftil girl sitting there alone. Cuchulainn immediately 
questioned ner as to the cause and reason of her strange position, 
and the young lady told him that she was the daughter of the 
king of Rechrainn; that her father was every year compelled to 
pay a large and rich tribute to the Fomorians, or pirates, who 
infested the Scottish islands ; that, failing this year to procure 


the stipulated amount, he was ordered to place her, his only lect. xin. 
daughter, in the position in which he now saw her, and that, go ^^^^^ 
before the night, she should be carried off by the Fomorians ; tochmabca, 
and whilst thjs conversation was actually going on, three fierce Jhips^\ ^e 
warriors of the Fomorians in fact landed in the bay from their ^^^^^°^ 
boat, and made straight for the spot in which they knew the cuchuiainn). 
maiden awaited them. Before, however, they had time to lay 
rude hands upon her, Cuchulainn sprang forward to encounter 
them, and succeeded in slaying them all, receiving but a slight 
scar on the arm in the combat, which the maiden tied up with 
a part of her costly robe. The maiden, so unexpectedly re- 
leased from her terrible condition, now ran joyously to her 
father, and related to him all that had happened ; but she could 
give no particular account of her deliverer. The father imme- 
diately communicated the happy tidings to his people, who, 
with the strangers and visitors at his court, thronged around 
him with their congratulations, and Cuchulainn among the rest. 
The king led the way to the customary ablutions before their 
feast, in which he was followed by his household and visitors, 
several of whom were boasting of having been the actual 
rescuers of the princess ; but when it came to Cuchulainn'a turn 
to bare his arms, she immediately identified him as her deli- 
verer, from his having the strip of her dress wrapped round his 
arm. An explanation followed, and the king, with the young 
lady's full consent, made an offer of her and her fortune to her 
dehverer. This Cuchulainn^ however, declined to accept at the 
time ; and, bidding farewell soon afterwards to his friends on the 
Island of Rechrainn, he returned to Emania, where he was joy- 
fully received by king Conor and the knights of the Royal Branch. 
Cuchulainn took but little rest after his arrival in Ulster, be- 
fore he set out for the residence of his faithftd lady love at Lusk ; 
but Eimer'a father and brothers having heard of his return, and 
expecting a visit from him, fortified themselves and Eimer so 
strongly and closely, that for a whole year Cuchulainn failed to 
obtain even a sight of her, much less an entrance to her dwel- 
ling. Being driven to desperation at last, he scaled the three 
circumvallations of the court, entered it, slew Eimer's three bro* 
thers, killed or disabled their adherents, and took away the 
lady herself by force, together with her waitingmaid, and as much 

Jrold, silver, and other treasures as he could carry. Cuchulainn 
orthwith transferred his treasures to his chariot, and turned his face 
northwards once more ; but an alarm being r^sed in the country 
all round, he was followed by numbers of armed men, so that he 
was compelled repeatedly to wheel round and give them combat. 
These combats took place generally at the fords of the rivers ; 


LECT. xm. and it is remarkable that every ford from the Glonn-A th (or the 
go Of ^jj^ Ford of Great Deeds), on the river AUbhini (now the Delvin), 
TocHMXROA, to Atk-an-Imoit (or the Ford of the Sods), on the River Boyne, 
6hip5"?"(The took its name from that of some person slain in the course of these 
SJSwrfby^' combats, or from some characteristic incident connected with 
cuchuiainn). them. But besides these names (many, or all of which may be 
easily identified) there is scarcely a hill, valley, river, rock, 
mound, or cave, in the hne of country from Emania (in the pre- 
sent county of Armagh) to Lusk (in the county of Dublin), of 
which the ancient and often varying names and history are not 
to be found in this singularly curious tract. So that, if we look 
upon it even but as a highly coloured historic romance, it will 
be found one of the most valuable of our large collection of an- 
cient compositions, on account of the light which it throws not 
merely on ancient social manners and on the miUtary feats and 
terms of those days, but on the meaning of so vast a number of 
topographical names. And it records too, I may add, very many 
curious customs and superstitions, many of which, to tms day, 
characterise the native Irish people. 

The only old copies of this tract with which I am acquainted 
are three. One of them, an imperfect one, is in the ancient 
Leahlmr na A- Uidhri^ in the library of the Royal Irish Academy ; 
another written partly on parchment and partly on paper, in the 
same library, belongs to the time of about the middle of the six- 
teenth century ; the third, a fine and perfect one on vellum, in 
the British Museum, is in the handwriting of Gillariabhcich 
O'Clery, the son of Tuathal O'Clery, who died in the year 1512. 
Of this copy I have made a careful transcript for my own use, free 
from the contractions with which the original abounds, and more 
accessible for all useful purposes than eitner of the old, or I may 
perhaps say, than any other copies now extant. 

Of several Amongst the other remarkable Tochmarca^ or Courtships, 

brSted^ rod^ still preserved among our MSS., I may mention the very ancient 

?coort^' Tochmarc MomSra, printed last year [1855] by the Celtic So- 

Bhipa". ciety, with the battle of Magh Lena, It contains a singularly 

interesting account of the voyage of the celebrated Eoghan Mor to 

Spain in the second century, and his marriage there with Jtfbm^ra, 

the daughter of the king of that country. The name of this 

story does not occur in the list of specimens of Scela in the 

Book of Leinster. 

The Tochmarc Mheidhlhi^ which does appear in that list, is 
the story of the marriage of the celebrated MeacUibh, [or M6av], 
queen of Connacht, with Ailill^ prince of Leinster, at Naas ; told 
in the Tain 16 Chvmlgni, 



The Tochmarc AilbhS, also in that list, is the courtship oiFinn lect. xni. 
Mac Cumhaill, of the princess Ailbhe, the daughter of Cormac ~ ~~ 
Mac Airt. This lady Ailbhi is said to have been the wisest othS-^cJic- 
woman of her time ; and Finn's courtship is described in the ^^ l^ 
relation of conversations, in which there is a sort of contest of ''^^^ 
abilitjT and knowledge between them. 

Of the many Tochmarca still preserved to us, I shall only 
mention one more — the Tochmarc Begfolady or "Courtship of 
the Woman of little dowry", who was sought in marriage by 
Diarmaid Mac Cearhhaill^ monarch of Erinn, in the sixth cen- 
tury. This piece is very ancient, though this also does not 
occur in the mcomplete list in the Book of Leinster ; and it is 
of remarkable value for the minute descriptions which it con- 
tains of the lady's dress, and of the various gold ornaments worn 
at the period. 

Another class of tales is known by the name of Uatha, or 90. or the 
Caves. These are tales respecting various occurrences in caves : "clJes^ 
sometimes the taking of a cave, when the place has been used as a 

i)lace of refuge or habitation, — and such a taking would be, in 
act, a sort of Toghail; sometimes the narrative of some adven- 
ture in a cave ; sometimes of a plunder of a cave ; and so on. 
Thus the Uath BeinnS Edair ('mentioned in the Book of Lein- 
ster), is the tale of the hiding otlHarmaid and Grdinne^ — the lat- 
ter the intended wife of Finn Mac Cumhaill^ with whom Diar- 
maid eloped, — ^in a cave on Beinn Etair or Edair (t.e., the hill 
of Howth). Again the Vath Chruachan^ or " Cave of Cruach- 
ain^\ is a very curious story of the plunder of the cave of 
Cruachain, part of the Story of the Tain Be^ or Bo, Aingen, 
(C^w-Spoil of Aingen)j in Connacht, in the time of Queen 
Mectdhbh and King Ailill, about the time of the Incarnation. 
So the Uath Belaigh Conglais is the story of CuglaSj a prince of 
Leinster in the first century. This prince was a distinguished 
huntsman, but one day in himting, he disappeared in the cave 
called since after him, Belach Conglais (now Baltinglass), and 
was never heard of afterwards. 

Another class consists of the Echtrai, or Adventures. An 10®. or the 
Echtra was generally a foreign expedition : it was always a per- or'"!^ ' 
sonal adventure of some kind. That called in the Book of Leins- ^®°^^^<^«"- 
ter the Echtra Macha inghinS Aedha Ruaidh (or the Adventure 
of Macha, the daughter of Aedh [Hugh] the red), is the story of 
Queen Macha's expedition into Connacht, and her bringing back 
as prisoners the three sons o^IHthorba, the events of which I have 
abeady related to you in reference to the founding of the palace 
of Emania by this Macha (near the present city of Armagh). 


LECT. im. The tales of these two classes are, however, so like in their 
10° Of th« P^^ ^^^ subjects to others, of which I give you examples, that 
EcHTRAi, or it is unnecessary to detain you here by any detailed specimen 
tnu^J'^' of them. I shall pass on men to another and more important 

sIdawh*!** ^^^ example of the Sluaighkadha, or Military Expeditions, 

juDHA, or which I wish to introduce to you, is that in which the last of the 

Expe^ P?S*"'^ kings of Erinn lost his hfe, about the year of our Lord 428. 

K^MditiS^ This expedition was also (like many of the Irish wars of the 

^mm»)^ period), a continental one, and the king's army appears to have 

passed quite across the south of France. The story is called, in 

the Book of Leinster, the Sluaghid Dathi co Sliabh n-Ealpa^ or 

the Expedition of Datht to the Alpine Mountains. 

Niall of the Nine Hostages was succeeded in the monarchy 
(a.d. 405) by Dathi^ the son of his brother Piachray king of 
Connacht; and was, like his uncle, a valiant and ambitious 
man. It happened that, in the seventeenth year of his reign, 
king Dathi was induced to go froai Tara to Eos Ruaidh^ the 
great cataract of the River Erne (at the present Ballyshannon), 
to adjust some territorial dispute which had spnmg up among 
his relatives. The time at which this journey was undertaken 
was the close of the summer, so that the kmg arrived at his 
destination close upon November Eve, a season of great so- 
lemnity of old among the pagan Gaedhils. 

Dathi, having concluded an amicable adjustment among his 
friends, and finoing himself on the eve of the great festival of 
Samhain, was desirous that his Druids should ascertain for him, 
by their art, the incidents that were to happen him from that 
time till the festival of Samhain of the next year. With this 
view he commanded the presence of his Druids ; and Doghra, 
the chief of them, immemately stood before him. " I wish", 
said the king, " to know my destiny, and that of my country, 
from this night till this night twelvemonths". " Then", said 
Doghra, " if you will send nine of your noblest chiefs with me 
from this to Aath Archaill, on the bank of the river Muaidh [the 
Moy], I will reveal something to them". " It shall be so", said 
the king, " and I shall be one of the number myself". 

They departed secretly irom the camp, and arrived in due 
time at the plain oi Rath Archaill, where the Druid's altars 
and idols were. Dathis queen, Ruadh, had a palace at Mul- 
loch Rvrndhsy in this neighbourhood, [a place still known under 
that name, in the parish of Screene, in tne barony of Tireragh, 
and county of Sligo]. Here the king took up ms quarters for 
the night, whilst the Druid repaired to Dumha na n-Dnuulh (or 



the Druid's Mound), near Rath Archaill, on the south, to con- lect. xm. 
suit his art according to the request of the king. ^^^ ^^^^ 

At the rising of the sun in the morning, the Druid repaired sluaiob- 
to the king's bed-room, and said: " Art thou asleep, O kmg of I^Mmtk?^ 
Erinn and of Albain?" "I am not asleep", answered the gjJJ?*- ^j^^ 
monarch, " but why have you made an addition to my titles ? txpedition 
for, although I have taken the sovereignty of Erinn, I have thoAips). 
not yet obtained that of Albain [Scotland]". " Thou shalt 
not be long so", said the Druid, " for I have consulted the 
clouds of the men of Erinn, and found that thou wilt soon 
return to Tara, where thou wilt invite all the provincial kings, 
and the chiefs of Erinn, to the great feast of Tara, and there 
thou shalt decide with them upon making an expedition into 
Albain, Britain, and France, following the conquering footsteps 
of thy great uncle, Niall, and thy granduncle, Crimhthann 
M6r", The king, delighted with this favourable prediction, 
returned to his camp, where he related what had nappened, 
and disclosed his desire for foreign conquests to such of the 
great men of the nation as happened to be of his train at the 
time. His designs were approved of, and the nobles were dis- 
missed to their respective homes, after having cordially pro- 
mised to attend on the king at Tara, with all their forces, 
whenever he should summon them, to discuss farther the great 
project which now wholly seized on his attention. 

Dathi returned home, stopping for a short period at the 
ancient palace of Cnuichain, in Roscommon. From this place 
he proceeded across the Shannon, and then delayed for some 
time at the ancient palace o{ Freamhainn, [a name still preserved 
in that of the hill of Frewin, in the present parish g£ Port- 
Loman, in the county of Westmeath]. 

The tale goes on to tell, at this place, an anecdote, having 
reference to the raith or building wnere the party then were, 
which is so interesting in itself, and as an example of the kind 
of information with which these tracts abound, that I may so 
far digress as to state it to you. 

In me course of the evening, when the fatigues of the journey 
were forgotten in the enjoyment of the cup and the cheerful- 
ness of conversation, the king asked his Druid, Finnchaem/iy 
who it was that built the noble and royal court in which they 
were then enjoying themselves. The Druid answered, that it 
had been built by Eochaidh Aireamh [Monarch of Erinn, 
about a century before the Christian era]. He then narrated 
to Dathi how that monarch called on the men of Erinn to build 
him a suitable residence, which should descend to his own 
family independently of the palace of Tara, which always 


LECT. xiTT. descended by law to the reigning monarch. The men of 
Of th E™^ cheermlly consented, and, dividing themselves into seven 
sluaioh- divisions, they soon built the great rath and the palace within 
" MuitkrJ it- The ground upon which the palace was built was the pro- 
tiJSs'^^ahe P^^rty of the Feara Cul of Teabhtlia (or Teffia); and although 
Expedition they formcd one of the seven parties who contributed to its 
^he Alps), erection, the monarch had not asked their consent for the site. 
This intrusion was so keenly felt by the Feara Cul^ and their 
king, Mormael^ that, at the following feast of Samhain^ or No- 
vember Eve, when invited by the monarch to the solemnity of 
the great festival, Maelmor attended with forty men in chanots, 
who, in the confiision of the night, murdered king Fochaidh, 
vmperceived by his people, and escaped themselves. The 
king's death was not oiscovered till the following morning, and 
the Feara Cul were the first to charge the murder on the secret 
^ency of the Tuatha Di Danann^ by the hand of Siogmally o( 
Sidh Neannta (in the present county of Roscommon). 

So far the Druid's history of the building o{ Frearnhainn^ and 
the death of the Monarch Eocliaidh Airimh, The Feara Ctd, 
however, did not escape detection ; their crime was quickly dis- 
covered, and, in fact, m order to escape the punishment which 
awaited them, they fled over the Shannon into Connacht, and 
settled on the borders of Gal way and Roscommon. Here the 
tribe remained for nearly three hundred years, until the return of 
Connac Mac Art from his exile in Connacht, in the year of our 
Lord 225 , to assume the monarchy, when he invited the Feara Cul 
to accompany him as his body-guard. This service they accord- 
ingly penonned, and on Cormac's ascending his father's throne 
he gave them a territoiy north of Tara, nearly coextensive with 
the present barony of Kells. And I may observe that since this 
settlement of the clann by Connac, they have been always j 

known in Irish history as the Feara Cul Breagh, or the Feara J 

Cul of * Bregia', a territory comprised in the modem county of ! 

East Meath. (This designation seems to have been intended to a 

distinguish their territory from the original one, called that of 1 

the Feara Cul of Teabhtha or Teffia, which is in West Meath — a j 

distinction not hitherto accounted for by modem writers. — H. \ 

2. 16. Col. 888. T.C.D.) ... I 

Let us, however, return to the stoij of king Dathi himself. On i j 

leaving FrearrJiainn, Dathi came to Kos-na-tiigh^ the residence of ' 

his mother, which was situated north-east of Tara, on the bank of 
the Boyne. Here he remained for some time, and at last returned 
to Tara, at which place he had, meanwhile, invited the states of | 

the nation to meet him at the approaching feast oiBeUtaini (one i 

of the great pagan festivals of ancient Ermn) on May Day. 


The feast of Tara tHs yeai was solemnized on a scale of splen- lect. x m. 
dour never before equalled. The fires of Taillten [now called j^o of th© 
Telltown, to the north of Tara] were lighted, and the sports, sluaioh- 
games, and ceremonies, for wmch that ancient place is cele- "^mtkry 
brated, were conducted with unusual magnificence and solemnity. ^JJgf^" (The 

These games and ceremonies are said to have been instituted ^Hi^**" 
more than a thousand years previously, by Lug^ the king of the the Alps). 
Tuatha Di Danann, in honour of TailltSj the daugnter of 
the king of Spain, and wife oiEochaidh Mac Eire, the last king 
of the Firbolg colony, who was slain in the first great battle of 
Alagh Tuireadh, It was at her court that Lug had been fos- 
tered, and on her death he had her buried at this place, where 
he raised an immense mound over her grave, and instituted 
those annual games in her honour. These games were solem- 
nized about the first day in August, and they continued to be ob- 
served so long as down to the ninth century. 

After the religious solemnities were concluded, Datki, having 
now discharged ms duties to his gods and to his subjects, turned 
his thoughts to his contemplated expedition ; and at a conference 
with all tne great chiefs and leaders of the nation, found them all 
ready to support him. Accordingly, without further delay, he 
concluded his preparations, and leavmg Tara in the charge of one 
of his cousins, he marched to Dundealgan (the present Dundalk), 
where his fleet was ready for sea, at the head of the most power- 
ful army that had ever, up to that time, been known to leave 
Erinn. He did not, however, embark at Dimdalk, but order- 
ing his fleet to meet him at Cuan Snamha Aighnech (now Car- 
lingford), he marched to lubliar Chinntrachta (now Newry), 
and from that to Oirear Caain. On his way to the latter place 
it appears he passed by Magh BiU (now Moville), and only at 
a short distance, (so that Oirear- Caoin m^ probably have been 
the ancient name of the place now called Donaghadee.) Here 
his fleet awaited him, and having embarked all his troops, he set 
sail for Scotland, which he reached safely at Port Patrick. 

Immediately upon his landing, Dathi sent his Druid to Fere- 
dock Finn, king of Scotland, who was then at his palace of Tuir- 
rin briahi na Righ, calling on him for submission and tribute, 
or an mimediate reason to the contrary on the field of battle. 
The Scottish king refused either submission or tribute, and ac- 
cepted the challenge of battle, but required a few days to pro- 
pare for so unexpected an event. ^ 

The time for battle at last arrived :^ both armies marched 

- to Magh an Chairthi (the plain of the PiUar Stone), in 

Glenn Feadha (the woody glen) ; Dathi at the head of his 

Graedhils, and Feredach leaSing a large force composed of 


LECT. xm. native Scots, Picts, Britons, French, Scandinavians, and Hebri- 
iio. Of the ^^*^ Islanders. 

sluaioh- a fierce and destructive fight ensued between the two parties, 

"Military in which the Scottish forces were at length overthrown and 
S5M".*"(The routed with great slaughter. When the Scottish king saw the 
?fX?i?to ^^^^^ of ^ son and the discomfiture of his army, he threw him- 
the Alps), self headlong on the ranks of his enemies, dealing death and de- 
struction all round him : but in the height of his fury he was 
laid hold of by Conall Gulban [the great ancestor of Saint 
Colum Cille and of the O'DonneUs of Donnegall], who, taking 
him up in his arms, hurled him against the pillar stone and 
dashed out his brains. The scene of this battle has continued 
ever since to be called Govt an ChairtM^ the Pillarstone Field ; 
and the glenn, Glenn an Chatha^ or Battle Glen. 

Dathi having now realized the object of his ambition, set 
up a surviving son of the late king on the throne of Scotland, 
and receiving hostages and formal public submission from him, 
he passed onwards mto Britain and France, in both of which 
countries he still received hostages and submission, wherever he 
proceeded on his march. He continued his progress, but with 
what object does not appear, even to the foot of tne Alps, where 
he was at last killed, m the midst of his glory, by a flash of 

The body of this great king was afterwards carried home 
by his people, and he was buried with his fathers in the ancient 
pagan cemetery at Raith Cruachain, in Connacht, as related in 
a very old poem by Toma Eigeas. At this place his grave was 
still distinguished by the Coirthe Dearg, the Red Pillar Stone, 
down to the year 1650, when Dtjbhaltach Mac Fiirhisigh wrote 
his first great Book of Genealogies. 

There are two copies of the present tract in Dublin, one in 
the Royal Irish Academy, and the other in my own collection, 
both on paper, and neither of them older than the year 1760; 
and although the tract has so far suffered at the hands of 
ignorant transcribers, as to be much corrupted in style and lan- 
guage, still I have found in it many genuine illustrations of 
ancient manners, customs, and ceremonies, to which other very 
ancient and better preserved pieces contain but allusions more 
or less obscure, 

120. ofthe The next and last class of the Historic Tales, of which I 
""Ex^dt °' shall give you an example at any length, is that of the Imramha, 
slS?\ ^ cThe ^^ Expeditions by Sea, which, as I have already explained to 
E^pedttion you, are to bc distinguished from the Longeas, in so far as the 
otuaC(Sra). Imramk was a navigation undertaken voluntarily, and generally 


in search of something, while the Lorigeas was a voyage entered lect. xm. 
upon involuntarily, as in the case of banishment or escape from j^o ^ ^^^ 
pursuit. You have had a specimen of the Longeas in tne story imiAMHA, or 
otLabhraidh Loingseach, The example of an imramh which I tion^by^' 
have selected is a story of a much later period, in the Christian I^Tp^iSn* 
times — namely, about the sixth century ; so that it is the last in ®J?^?**"*v 
the chronological order of my examples. It is the Imramh Ua^ ^ '^^^^ ' 
Corra, or the Navigation (or Expedition) of the sons of Ua 
Corra into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Of this class of our ancient tales, the number that have come 
down to us is but small, but they are very ancient ; tind though 
indefinite in their results, and burdened with much matter of a 
poetic or other romantic character, still there can be no rational 
doubt that they are founded on facts, the recital of which, in the 
original form, would have been probably found singularly valu- 
able, though, in the lapse of ages, and after passmg through 
the hands of story-tellers, whose minds were full of imagination, 
these tales lost, in a great measure, their original simphcity and 
truthful character, and became more and more fanciiul and ex- 

That such tales as these were numerous in the ancient history 
of Erinn may be very clearly seen from the Litany of Aengus 
CeU^ Diy where several of them are mentitmed. At present, I 
know of but four such pieces remaining in our ancient manu- 
scripts, of all of which, however, we have copies of considerable 
antiquity and detail- These are the Navigation of Saint Bren- 
dan; the Navigation of the sons of Ua Corra; the Navigation 
of Snedgus and Mac Riaghla; and the Navigation of Maelduin. 
(One of these pieces, the Navigation of Saint Brendan, has 
been introducea to the world in full detail, and in beautiful 
verse, by my distinguished friend, our Professor of Poetry, 
Denis Florence MacCarthy, in the Dublin University Maga- 
zine for January, 1848). 

Saint Brendan s voyages, for he made two, were perfonncd 
about the year 560; the voyage of the sons of Ua Corra^ 
about the year 540 ; the voyage of Snedgua and Mac Riaghla 
(two priests of the island of lona), about the middle of the 
seventn ; and that of Maelduin, in tiie eighth century. As tlic 
early history of the sons of Ua Corra, and the cause of their 
wanderings at sea, are more circumstantial and curious (though 
their story, too, is ting;ed with a little of the fabulous) than 
anj of the rest, excepting Saint Brendan's, I have selected 
this tale as an example of which to give you a short sketch. 

Conall Dearg Ua Corra was an opulent landholder and 
farmer of the province of Corinacht. He had to wife tlie 



I.ECT. mi. daughter of the Airchinnech, or lay impropriator of the church 
,«o ^x*. lan<£, of Clothar; with whom he hved happily for some years, 

12". Of the - / , Ai -It .*-*'"'^ ,, «. ' 

iHRAMHA, or keeping a house of hospitable entertainment tor all Tisitors 

tions^*" and strangers. Not hemg blessed with children, howcTer, 

Sr^itSf though jxrayinff ardently to the Lord for them, they became, 

oJt»»eSoii8 but particularnr the husband, impatient and discontented; 

* and, so far did his despair carry him, that at last he renounced 

God, and persuaded his wife to join him in prayer and a three 

days' fast to the Devil, to favour them with an heir to their 

large inheritance. 

It would seem that the evil spirit heard their petition, for, in 
due time after, the wife brought forth tliree sons at one birth. 
These sons grew up to be brave and able men, and, having heard 
that they hacL been consecrated to the Devil at their birth, they re* 
solved to dedicate their lives to his service. As if for that special 
end, they appear to have collected a few desperate villains about 
them, and to have commenced an indiscriminate war of plunder 
and destruction against tlie Christian churches of Connacht and 
their priests, beginning with the church of Tuaim da GhuaUmn 

S!'uam], and not ceasing till they had pillaged or destroyed more 
an half the churches of the province. 

At last they determined to visit also the church of Clothar^ 
to destroy it, and to kill their grandfather, the Airehinnech of 
the place. When they came to the church, they found the old 
man on the green in front of it, distributing with a bountiful 
hand m(fat and drink to his tenants and to the benefactors of 
the church. Seeing this, his pei-sccutors altered their plans, 
and put off the execution of their murderous purpose Ull the 
more favourable time of night. 

The grandfadief, though suspecting their evil design, received 
them with- kindness, and assigned them a comfortable resting- 
place ; and, after having fared heartily, they retired to bed, m 
order to lull suspicion, at the usual time. Lochan, the eldest 
of the three brothers, had, however, during his sleep, a strange 
vision, which ended by seriously affecting their design. He 
was shown in a dream, in vivid colours, the glories and joys of 
Heaven, and the tonncnts and horrors of Hell ; and he awoke 
deeply affected by what was thus disclosed to him. 

when the three brothers, then, arose at the hour of the 
night appointed to execute their purpose, Loelum addressed 
himsijf to the other two, related to them his vision, told them 
of his newly-born fears, and, id fine, persuaded them that they 
had been hitherto serving an evil power, and making war on a 
good master. The brothers were powerfully struck with what 
fliey heard; and so complete* was the transformation of mind 


suddenly wrought in them by it, that at last they all agreed lbct. xni. 
to repair in the morning, in a spirit of sorrow and penitence, ^^^ ^^^^ 
to their grandfather, to seek his prayers and pardon, and to imramha, or 
ask his advice as to what they should do to amend their lives, uoS^f' 
and make reparation for the past ISiditST 

When the morning came, accordingly, they presented them- of the sons 
selves before the Airchinnech, acknowledged then: wicked inten- ^ ^ ^^^l^ 
tions, and took counsel with him as to their future conduct. 
The course he advised them to take, and on which they deter- 
mined, was, that they should repair at once to Saint Finnen of 
Clonard, who was then the great teacher, and, as it were, the 
head of all the schools of divinity in Erinn, and submit them- 
selves to his spiritual direction. 

For this purpose they took leave of their friends, put off their 
habiliments of warfare and offence, turned their spears into pil- 
grims' staffs, and repaired to Clonard. 

When the people of Clonard perceived them coming, being 
well acquainted with their wickedness, thejr fled for their lives 
in all directions, with the exception of Saint Finnen himself, 
who went out calmly to meet them. Seeing this, they hastened 
to meet the holy priest, and throwing themselves on their knees 
before him, they besought his pardon and spiritual friendship. 

" What do you want?" said tne priest. " We want", said they, 
*' to take upon us the habit of religion and penitence, and hence- 
forth to serve God". " Your detcnnination is a good one", said 
thepriest; ** let us come into the town where my peoi)le arc". 

They entered tho town with him, and the saint having taken 
coimsel of the people respecting the penitents, what they decided 
on was, to place tnem for a year under the sole care and instnic- 
non of a certain divinity student, with whom exclusively they 
were to hold any conversation during that period. 

Having finished their year in this manner, in the solitary prac- 
tice of religious exercises, and the study of the Christian doc- 
trines, to the satisfaction and edification of their instructor and 
the entire congregation, the three brothers a^ain presented them- 
selves before Saint Finnen, and besought his benediction and 
his penitential sentence for their former crimes. 

The saint gave them his benediction, and then said: " You 
cannot restore to life those innocent ecclesiastics whom you have 
slain, but you can go and repair and restore, as far as it is in your 
power, the many churches and other buildings which you have 
desecrated and ruined". 

The sons of Ua Corra at once rose up and took an affectionate 
leave of Saint Finnen and his pious and learned flock ; and as 
the church of Tvmm da Ghtuilcfnn [Tuam] was the first that 

19 b 


LECT. xin, suffered from their wicked depredations, they determined that it 
120 Of the s^^^l^ ^ ^^ fi^ ^ receive the benefit of their altered disposi- 

Imkahha, or tions. * 

tioMby!" Thither accordingly they went, and they repaired the ruined 

Sfp^ditiSf church, and restored it to its original perfection. And thus they 

oj^hesona proceeded on, from place to place, imtil at last they had repaired 

' and restored all the ruined churches but one, after which they 

returned to Saint Finnen. 

The saint asked them if they had finished their work. They 
answered that they had repaired all the churches but one. 
" Which is that ?" said Finnen. " The church of Ceann MarcTy 
pCinvara, at the head of the bay of Galway], said they. "Alas P 
said the saint, " that was the first church which you ought to 
have repaired, — the church of the holy old man, Coman of 
Kinvara ; and return now", said he, " and repair every damage 
that you have done in that place". 

The brothers obeyed, they went back and repaired the church, 
and after this, taking counsel with Saint Coman, they built 
themselves a great curach or canoe, covered with hides, three 
deep, and capable of carrying nine persons, in which they deter- 
mined to go out upon a pilgrimage upon the great Atlantic 

When their vessel was ready to be launched, several persons 
besought permission to accompany them ; and among others, a 
bishop, a priest, and a deacon, as well as the man who built the 
canoe, and also (the story tells us) a certain musician. These 
five they received of the party. 

With this company then the three sons of Ua Corra went 
out upon the waters in the Bay of Galway ; and after having 
cleared the islands and headlands of the bay, deeming it useless 
to attempt to steer their course in any particular direction, they 
drew their oars on board, and committed themselves passively 
to the mercy of the waves and the direction of God. 

The adventurers were driven by the wind from the land into 
the solitudes of the great Atlantic Ocean ; and the story goes on 
to describe how, after forty days and forty nights, they came to 
an island which was full of people, all of whom were moaning and 
lamenting. One of the wanderers went on shore for the pur- 
pose of learning the name of the island and the character 01 its 
inhabitants, but no sooner had he joined these strange people, 
than he too began to moan and lament like the rest ; and this 
induced his companions to depart without him. 

After this the tale becomes altogether wild and fabulous, al- 
ways, however, tending to a certain moral conclusion. The 
wanderers pass occasionally into the region of spirits, and are 


brought into contact with the living and the dead; and the in- lect. xm. 
cidents of their voyage are made to tell, negatively, on some of ~~^ 
the immoraUties and irregularities of Christian life. On one is- imramha, or 
land, for instance, they found a sohtarv ecclesiastic, who told tioijfby*" 
them that he had been expelled from the community to which §.«**'• .iP® 

Til TP 1 ' ^ ^ • • 11 "^ 1 Expedition 

he belonged tor neglectmg his matms ; that he set out on the of the sons 
sea in a boat, and so was cast ashore on this island alone. On ^^* 
another island they found a man digging with a spade, the 
handle of which was on fire: and on asking him the cause of so 
strange a circumstance, he told them that when on earth he was 
accustomed to dig on Sundays; and this was the punishment 
awarded to him. On another island they found a burly miller 
feeding his mill with all the perishable things of which people 
are so choice and niggardly in this world. On another they 
found a man riding a horse of fire, who told them that he 
had taken his brother's horse, and ridden it on a Sunday. An- 
other island they found peopled with smiths, and artificers in 
the precious metals, and men of every trade, all shrieking and 
moaning under the incessant attacks of huge black birds, which 
tore the flesh from their bones with their biUs and talons ; and 
they learned that these people were thus made to suffer for all 
the falsehoods and frauds which they had been guilty of in this 

At length the voyagers approached a land which they learned 
from some fishermen on its coast was Spain. Here they landed, 
and the bishop built a church, which, however, he soon after- 
wards resigned to the priest, and went on himself to Rome, ac- 
companied by a certain youth, who was one of the wandering 
party. This bishop subsequently returned to Erinn from Rome, 
accompanied by the same youth, who is said to have related 
the whole adventure, under the bishop's correction, to Bishop 
Saerbhreathach [a name Latinized Justinus, and now called 
Justin] ; Bishop Justin related it to Saint Colman, of Arann 
Island ; and upon this relation Saint Mocholmdg wrote the poem 
[see original in Appendix, No. XCI.], which begins; — 

The Ua Corras of Connacht, 
Undismayed by mountain waves, 
Over the profound howling ocean. 
Sought the lands of the marvellous. 

From the conclusion of this tale we may fairly infer that its 
composition belonged originally to the great island of Arann, 
on the coast of the county of Clare, and in the bay of Gralway ; . 
and, although the narrative, in the latter part of it, is wild and 
fabulous, there is little doubt that this and many similar voy- 


LECT. XIII. ages were actually undertaken by several parties of Christian 
12* Of the plgn^^s, in the early ages of the Church in Ireland. And this 
iMRAMHii, or fact, as I have already stated, is fully borne out by the Litany 
tifn?bf " of Aengus Ceile DS, written about the year 780 (of which more 
^pedit^* on a future occasion), in which he invokes the intercession of 
of the Sons the SOUS of Ua Corra and of their company, as well as of 
several other companies ot pilgnm navigators. 

At the time of the delivery of this lecture I was acquainted 
but with two copies of this curious tract, both on paper, one in 
the Royal Irish Academy, and the other in my own possession. 
Since then, however, a copy of it, somewhat damaged indeed, 
but full and valuable, has come under my observation; one, 
namely, which is preserved in the old veUum " Book of Fer- 
moy", before referred to as having been purchased by the Rev. 
Dr. Todd, at the sale of the books of the late William Monk 
Mason, in London, in 1858. The copy in my jK)Ssession ap- 
pears to have been transcribed from the same original 

Of the re- The Other divisions of the Tales mentioned by the early 
classes of the wntcrs, 1 need not stay to enlarge on. 

tIlm!"^ Of the Feasa (Feasts or Banquets), we have a great number, 

some of which I shall have presently to allude to in connexion 
with the Fenian and purely imaginative tales. 

The Aithidhi were Elopements. Of these an excellent ex- 
ample is within the reach of all of you, in the celebrated story 
of Deirdri and the Sons of Uianeach, an edition of which 
(with a translation) was published here in 1808, by the Grselic 
Society of Dublin, of wnich copies may still be easily pro- 
cured. This was the tract named in the Book of Leinster as 
the Aithid DheirdH re Macaibh Uisnigh (the Elopement of 
Deirdri with the sons of Uisneach). 

The fi^'ca, or Loves, were love-stories, such as that eventful 
story of Queen Gormlaith, the principal part of which I had 
occasion to describe to you in a former lecture. 

The Tomhadhma were the stories of the bursting out of 
Lakes, and the irruptions of the Sea, and the consequences of 
the inundations caused by them. Thus the Tomhaidhm Locha 
n-Echachy or Bursting out of Loch Neagh, is the account of 
the irruption which first formed that great loch, about the 
second century; in which irruption JEocJiaidh Mac Mairida, 
the son of the king of Fermoy , in Munster, was drowned with 
his people. It is from him that Loch Neagh takes its name : 
Lock n-Echachy the Lake of Eochaidh, 

The Toclwmladh was an Immigration or arrival of a Colony ; 
and imder this name the coming of the several colonies of Par- 


thalofij of NemedJiy of the Firbolgs, the Tuaiha D6 DananUj the lect. xm. 
Milesians, etc., into Erinn, are all described in separate tales. It q,j,j^^ 
is probably from the original records of these ancient stories that mainiBg 
the early part of the various Books of Invasions has been com- hmtoIw 
piled. T^^ 

Lastly, the Fia, or Visions, were stories of prophecies declared 
in the form of visions seen by various personages. Of the more 
remarkable prophecies, as they are called, I shall soon have oc- 
casion to speak to you at greater length. 

I believe I have now laid before you a somewhat intelligible 
though veiy short sketch of what the student of history may ex- 
pect to find in the various classes of the Historic Tales of the 
OUamhs and Poets of Erinn. Their value and bearing upon 
our history I have already attempted to indicate, and I hope 
even the slight descriptions my space allowed me to give of 
these compositions, have been sufficient to prove to you their 


a>eilrcr9d 3vfy 7, 1856.1 

Of the ancient Ikaoinative Tales and Poems; and of the use to be made 
oif them in serioos historical inrestigation. Of the Fenian Poems and 
Tales. Of the oompositions of Oi^n (OssianX Of Fergos. Of CaeiJUi. 
The '^ Dialogue of the Ancient Men". D^cription of the dwelling of Crede^ 
the beautiful daughter of Cairbre^ King of Kerry. The Story of the ** Pursuit 
of Diarmaid and Gramne\ The Story of the ** BatUe of Ventry Harbour". 

The present course of Lectures has been confined, as you are 
aware, to the subject of the materials of positive history to be 
found among existing ancient Irish MSS. Other remains of 
our ancient literature have also come down to us, and in very 
considerable quantity — ^literature, namely, of a purely imagina- 
tive character ; and with the compositions of this class we have 
at present but httle to do, though at a future period I hope to 
have an opportimity of making you acquainted with their con- 
tents. Even in ancient writings of pure fiction, however, 
little as at first sight you may suspect their importance to the 
student of mere history, much will be found of very great 
value in any inquiries into the Ufe and institutions of our an- 
cestors in those remote ages. And as the true history of 
imcient Erinn can never be written or understood, without an 
accurate acquaintance with that life, as well as with those insti- 
tutions, it has appeared to me, that the sketch I have been en- 
deavouring to lay before you of the materials of our history 
would be incomplete, were I to omit to call your attention to 
the uses which may be made even of the most fanciful tales of 
pure imagination which are to be found in the ancient Gaedhlic 
books. It is of this subject, then, that I propose to treat, 
though very shortly indeed, in the present Lecture. 

In the composition even of the wildest tales, you will almost 
always find that the imagery and incidents made use of by the 
author are drawn from the Ufe and scenes actually passing 
around him, or else f]X)m those which he has learned Srom 
minute and vivid descriptions, handed down to him from earlier 
times in his own language. This is indeed almost a necessary 
condition of every novcBst s success ; equally so whether he be 
the story-teller of the Arabian desert, the Seanchaidhi of ancient 


Erinn, or a modem Guedliel, writing in the nineteenth century lect. xiy. 
in the English language, such as Gerald Grijfin or Sir Walter ^ ^^^ ^^^^ 
Scott But the farther back the author we examine has flou- ncai uso to 
rished, the more likely will it be that his short and simple thJiSAcrxA- 
poem or tale should have been framed out of materials actually ]^^oi^ 
present to his eye, or existing within his knowledge in the so- 
ciety in which ne lived. Whatever be the names, the deeds, 
the sufferings, of his heroes and heroines, — and even though the 
romantic visions of fairyland may be called in to add wonders 
to the adventures narrated, — still the mere details of life, the 
customs and action of society (without which no story can be 
made to move along), must be drawn by the author from the 
manners and institutions existing aroimd him, or, at farthest, 
from those with which he has been familiarized by his fathers 
immediately preceding him, and which still live in the popular 
memories of his time. If this were not so, the poet's nearers 
would not imderstand him, the story-teller's tale would create 
no interest amon^ his audience. And so it is that, even in 
these purely imagmative fictions, we may expect to find (and 
exammation proves that we do find) abundance of minute and 
copious information upon those little details of ordinary life, — 
upon the buildings, upon the interiors of the homes, upon the 
dresses, the food, the etiquette and courteous forms, and the 
mode of speech, of our remote ancestors, — which no historical 
records can give, but without which no historical records can 
be made to supply us with the true life and meaning of history. 
So far, therefore, as these necessary details are concerned, we 
must count gi-eat part of even the purely imaginative literature 
of ancient Erinn as containing much that claims a place among 
the materials of history. 

Of the serious use which may in this manner be made of 

i genuine national compositions, though of the class of mere 
iction, a remarkable example occurs to me, which may explain 
the view that I take of this subject, better, perhaps, than any 
lengthened argument. You are all probably familiar with the 
celebrated Eastern tales, commonly called those of the "Arabian 
Nights". It is scarcely possible to conceive any stories more 
entirely based on and even made up of fiction, and that fiction 
so purely imaginative, so almost exclusively conversant with 
the impossible, as to present very little indeed soberly capable 
of belief at all. And yet these stories, necessarily embracing 
as they do a vast amount of description and allusions con- 
nected with Arab life and manners, — ^thcse stories have been 
made the occasion and foundation of, perhaps, the most solid 
and valuable work on Eastern life in the English language. 


LECT. XIV. I allude of course to the large (noted) edition of the '^Arabian 
Of the hiat ^%^^" published by Mr. Lane, the well-known Eastern tra- 
ricai use to veUeT. If ow it is picciscly in the same way that similar tales 
Sho^JilGraA. of ancient Erinn would be found most valuable as illustrating 
^^PoKM. ^^cient GacdhUc Ufe, if we were fortunate enough to possess so 
great a body of the earlier works of this class m proper pre- 
servation, or even of reliable copies of such works. 

Of those which we do possess, many contain somewhat more 
of truth than the Arabian Nights, because the personages intro- 
duced are often historical. Many, however, being meagre in 
extent, and little conversant with details of life, will bo found 
to suggest little of importance to the student of mere history; 
and these I shall therefore entirely pass over here. The re- 
mainder, however, appear to me to be of so much importance, 
in the manner and for the reasons I have shortly attempted to 
explain, that I feel boimd to assert that, without a careful exa- 
mination of their contents, no one, in the present state of know- 
ledge, can attain an adequate acquaintance with early Irish life, 
much less presume to address himself to the task of contributing 
to what may become a satisfactory histor;^ of Erinn. 

But, besides so much valuable information upon life and man- 
ners, as almost all the class of writings contam of which I am 
now speaking, there are some other points also upon which the 
imaginative tales in the ancient Gaedhlic embrace matter of 
soUd importance and authority. They frequently embody or 
allude to historic traditions, believed or partly believed in the 
time of the authors, and sometimes in the very statement of 
them supplying links wanting in the chain, of history, in the 
allusions and references made in them to more serious works 
now lost. Everv such tradition must, of course, have had some 
foimdation ; ana every such tradition, when found in any writ- 
ing of great age, deserves, and ought to command, diligent atten- 
tion at least, and careful inquiry. Very many of the Imagina- 
tive Tales, again, contain the most valuable records as to places ; 
often describing to us minutely the situation of cities, forts, 
graves, etc., well known in histoiy, but whose topography could 
not otherwise be made out. And many a blank has been filled 
up, and many a mistake has been corrected, by the informa- 
tion respecting localities and the derivation of their names, 
found in this class of our literature. 

Without enlarging further, then, upon this subject, I think I 
have now said enough to explain to you why it is that in treating 
of the manuscript materials of ancient Irish histoiy , I could not 
altogether pass over the Imaginative Tales found among our 
ancient Gaedhlic MSS., at least that class of them in which are 


tx> be found those descriptions of infonnation to which I have lect xiv. 

The purely ima^native literature of the ancient Gaedhils, oftheew-iier 
still existing m the MSS. which have been handed down to us ginatwe "*" 
in safety, may be divided into distinct classes, some of which fSSLm^* 
are comjpositions yet more ancient than the others. The earliest ^^^^ 
of all — if we regard merely the authors to whom they are attri- 
buted — ^are the poems or metrical talcs called the Fenian Poems, 
many of which are attributed to Oisin and Fergus, die sons of 
the celebrated Finn Mac CumJiaill, some of them to Finn him- 
self, and some to his cousin Caeilte. After tliese may be placed 
the prose recitals, probably founded on similar poems now lost, 
but probably also themselves compositions of as early a date: I 
mean those stories commonly called Fenian Tales. Finally, 
after the Fenian Poems and Tales, in point of date, we find a 
great number of romantic legends and tales, both in prose and 
verse, many of which were certainly composed at a very remote 

Seriod, but of which the various dates of composition extend 
own almost to our own times. And it is withm my own me- 
mory that in Clare, and throughout Munster, the invention and 
recital of such romantic tales continue to afford a favourite 
delight to the still Gaedhlic-spcaking people. 

It is obvious that, so far as concerns the historical value of 
such illustrative details as I have stated to exist in this class of 
literature, we may pass by at once almost all the tales which are 
known or may be believed to have been composed after the 
intimate contact of the pure Gaedhil with the Norman and 
English settlers, in whatever parts of the island such intimate 
contact took place. For as soon as any portion of the people 
became for a while intimate with foreign races and foreign 
modes of life on their own soil, their literature, it may be sup- 
posed, would probably become tinned with foreign ideas, and 
would therefore become of little value in illustration of the life 
and history of the Gaedhils. In selecting for study, then, those 
of our Imaginative Tales which appear to contain valuable mat- 
ter for the historian, I would pass over altogether all those of 
the last three centuries in everjr part of the country, and all 
those of date before that period, composed in any part of the 
island in immediate contact with foreign society ana manners. 
Of coiu-se, in the particular case of any separate piece, care must 
also be taken to investigate those circumstances upon which 
ought to depend its authenticity for the purposes of our inquiry. 
With these preliminary remarks, then, I proceed to offer some 
observations to-day upon those portions of the imaginative lite- 



rature of ancient Erinn which we yet possess, and from which 

solid and reliable information is to be obtained. And, in the 

plems, etc, examplcs which I shall bring under your notice, I shall select 

ascribed to' from the earliest and most characteristic of these interesting com- 


Several writers on Irish history have been rather puzzled 
about the antiquity of the poems and legends ascribed to Oisin; 
and the Rev. Charles O'Conor, in the Bibliotheca Stowenaia 
(vol. i. p. 165), says that, 

"All the most ancient poems on the subject of 7am Bo 
Chuailgniy and the wars of Cuchulainn^ and on the wars of 
Conn of the Hundred Battles, and of Fingal, and of Oscar, and 
of Oisin, or Ossian, are in this style of poetry. [He refers to a 
specimen.] They are romances of the thirteenth and fourteenth 
centuries; the few historical facts in them are gleaned from 
Tighemach and from the Saltair of Cashel". 

Now part of this opinion belongs to the reverend doctor him- 
self, and part to his [m these matters] more learned grandfather, 
Charles O'Conor of Belanagar, who, in his observations on Mr. 
Mac Pherson's dissertations and notes on the poems of ** FingaF 
and " Temora", speaks as follows : 

'* That the poems of Fingal and Temora have no foundation in 
the histonr of the ancient Scots, is an idea that we are vpiy far 
from establishing. They are evidently founded on the ro- 
mances and vulgar stories of the Fiana Eireann, The poet, 
whoever he was, picked up many of the names of men and 
places to be found in those tales, and invention made up the 
rest. In digesting these poems into their present forms, cliono- 
logy was overlooked, and the actions of different ages are all 
made coeval. Ossian, an ancient bard of- the tliird century, is 
pitched upon as a proper author to gain admiration for such 
compositions, and the more (it should seem) as he was an iUi- 
terate bard*!. 

Mr. O'Conor does not fix upon any probable date for these 
Fenian poems, for two reasons : first, because he could not find 
satisfactory data for doing so; and, secondly, because, as he 
could not find such data, he would not do so. His learned 
and reverend grandson, however, was not so fastidious ; for it 
appears to have been a rule with him to dispose of everything 
for which he could not find a positive date, by placing it arbi- 
tiuiily within the period — " from the thirteenth to the sixteenth 

It is now too late to discuss whether Oidn was an illiter- 
ate bard or not; but the Rev. Dr. Keting, in his History of 
Erinn, at the reign of Cormac Mac Art, quotes an ancient 


authority, which I have not yet had the good fortune to meet, lect.xiv. 
for the quahfications which it was indispensable for a man to ^^^j^^ 
possess before he could be received into the select militia, of ^^^'^^^^ 
which Finn Mac Cumhaill was the last commander ; and one ouin. 
of those qualifications was, that the candidate should be a poet 
(that is, educated to compose regular verses), and should have 
learned the twelve Booh of Poetry. 

It is impossible to fix any precise, or even probable, date for 
these Feman poems now ; and all that can be done, in answer 
to the arbitrary statements of Dr. O'Conor and others, relative 
to the date of their compositions, is to trace them back as far as 
known manuscripts of ascertained dates will carry us. Of these 
ancient authorities, the Book of Leinster, so often referred to in 
the course of these lectures, is the oldest and most authentic. 
It was compiled, as you will remember, in the early part of the 
twelfth century, and, certainly, from more ancient books. Its 
authority, so far, must be received as unexceptionable ; and to it 
I shall, in the first instance, refer, for the refutation of Dr. 
O'Conor's arbitrary opinions on these poems. I may, however, 
I think, safely assert that the style, language, and matter of 
these poems will, in the opinion of any competent Irish scholar, 
carry their composition several centuries farther back. 

If the people of Scotland could show such poems as those to 
be found in the Book of Leinster and the other books which I 
shall follow, relating to Finn Mac Cumhaill and Oisin, and 
connecting them as much with Scotland as they do with this 
country, then, indeed, might they stand up boldly for Mac 
Pherson's forgeries and baseless assertions ; and there is httle 
doubt but that they would have long since presented them to 
the world in print. 

The ancient literary remains which have for a long time of the 
passed under the names of Fenian Poems and Tales are of p5bm8'a„,> 
tour classes. talm. 

The first class consists of poems ascribed directly, in ancient 
transcripts, to Finn Mac CumJuzill; to his sons, Oisin and 
Feraus Finnbheoill (the Eloquent) ; and to his kinsman Caeilte, 

The second class consists of tracts made up of articles in prose 
and verse, ascribed to some one of the same personages, but 
related by a second person. 

The third class consists of miscellaneous poems, desciiptive 
of passages in the life of Finn and his warriors, but without 
any ascnption of authorship. 

The fourth class consists of certain prose tales told in a ro- 
mantic style relating to the exploits of the same renowned 
captain, and those of his more distinguished companions. 



The poems ascribed, upon anything like respectable authority, 
to Finn Mac Cumhaill are few indeed, amounting only to five, 
Mcribed"u) as far as I have been able to discover; but these few are found 
^JJJ^Jjf in manuscripts of considerable antiquity — ^namely, the Book of 
Lcinster, which, as 1 have already observed, was compiled, 
chiefly from older books, in the early part of the twelfth cen- 
tury ; and the Book of Lecain^ compiled in the same way in 
theyear 1416. 

The first of these five poems is devoted to an account of the 
exploits and death of Goll Mac Moma, the great chief of the 
Connacht Fenians. 

This Goll had slain Finn's father, Cmnhall, in the battle of 
Cnucha, near Dublin, and was in Finn's early life his mortal 
enemy ; but he subsequently made peace with liim and submit- 
ted t'j his superior command. In the poem Finn gives a vivid 
and rapid account of all the men of note who fell by the hands 
of Goll and the Connacht warriors in all parts of Erinn, with the 
names of the slain and of the places in which they fell. The 
poem consists of 86 quatrains, and begins thus [see original in 
Appendix, No. XCII.] :— 

" Tlie grave of Goll in Magh Raighnff'. 

(This Magh RaighnS was an ancient plain in Ossory in Leins- 
ter ; Cill Finch4, or Saint Finche's church was situated m it, accor- 
ding to the Festology ofAengus Ceili Dcy or Aengus the " Cul- 
dee". The poem contains a great numlxjr of topographical re- 
ferences, for which it is particularly valuable. 

The second is a short poem, of only five quatrains, on the ori- 
gin of the name of Magh-da-Gheisi, or the Plain of the Two 
Swans, also in Leinster, beginning [see original in same Appen- 
dix] : — 

" The stone which I was wont to throw". 

The third is a shorter poem of only three quatrains, on the 
ori^ of the name of Roirend^ a place in Ui FailgMy or Offaly, 
beginning [see original in same Appendix] : — 

"Beloved is he who came from a brave land". 

These three (which belong to the ancient lost tract called the 
Dinmenchus) are found in the Book of Leinster only : the fol- 
lowing are likewise to be found there, but ai*e also preserved in 
the Book o( Lecain. 

A poem of seventeen quatrains, descriptive of Ros-Broc 
[Badger- Wood], the place which is now Teach Moling [Saint 
Mullen's], on the brink of the River Bearbha [or Barrow], in 


the present comity of Carlow. It begins [see original in same lect.xiv. 
Appendix]:— ^,p^„, 

ascribed to 

^^Ro88'Broc tins day is the resort of warriors''. ^«« ^^c 

^ ^ CumhaiU. 

In this poem (the authenticity of which as Finn's, there is 
abimdant reason to question), Finn is made to prophesy the 
coming of Saint Patrick into Ireland to propagate the truths of 
Christianity, and the future sanctity of Ros-Broc when it should 
become the peaceful abode of Saint Moling and his monks. 

Another poem is on the tragical death of Fitliir and Darini^ 
the two daughters of the monarch Tuathal Techtmary whose 
untimely end was produced by the treachery of Eochaidh An- 
eheanj King of LeLoster. This poem begins [see original in 
same Appendix] : — 

"Fearful the deed which has been done here". 

So far the Book of Leinster : but the Book o£Lecain contains, 
in addition, two other poems ascribed to Finn. One of these 
is taken from the tract m the Dinnsmchus, on the origin of the 
name of a place called Druirn iJean, in Leinster. This was a 
hill upon which Finn had a mansion. Finn went on an expe- 
dition into Connacht, during which he defeated the cliieftain 
UincJii in battle at Ceann Mara [now called Kinvara], on the 
Bay of Gralway. UinehSj with twenty-one of his party, escaped 
from the battle, and came directly to Finn's mansion at Druim 
Drean^ wliich he succeeded in totally destroying. Finn soon 
returned home, but finding his residence destroyed and several 
of his people killed, he went with his son Oisin and his cousin 
Caeilti in pursuit of the enemy, whom he overtook and slew at 
a ford called ever since Ath Uinchi^ or JJinMs Ford. On 
Finn's return from this last achievement, he addressed this poem 
to the hill on which stood his desolate home [see original in 
same Appendix] : — 

"Desolate is your man^on, O Druim DearC^. 

Of some poems, prophecies, and sayings ascribed in other 
manuscripts to Finn Mac CumliaiU, the space I have allotted 
me will not allow me to speak in detail ; but I may, however, 
take occasion to assure you that it is quite a mistake to suppose 
Finn Mac Cumliaill to have been a merely ima^nary or mythi- 
cal character. Much that has been narmted of his exploits is, 
no doubt, apocryphal enough; but Finn himself is an un- 
doubtedly historical personage ; and that he existed about the 
time at which his appearance is recorded in the annals, is as 
certain as that Julius Gassar lived and ruled at the time stated 




The Poems 
ascribed to 
Finn Afae 

Of t>u6^or 
" Ossion". 

The Poems 
ascribed to 

on the authority of the Roman historians. I may add here, 
that the pedigree of Finn is fully recorded on the unquestion- 
able authority of the Book of Leinster, in which he is set 
down as the son of Cumhall, who was the son of Trenmdr, son 
of Snaelt^ son of Eltan, son of Baiscni^ son of Nvada Neckty 
who was of the Heremonian race, and monarch of Erinn 
about A.M. 5090, according to the chronology of the Four 
Masters, that is, 110 years before Christ. Finn himself was 
slain, according to the Annals of the Four Masters, in Anno 
Domini 283, in the reign of Cairbri Lifectchair. 

Oisin (a word which signifies literally the "little fawn"), the 
son of Finn Mac Cum/iaill, has within the last hundred years 
attracted much attention among the most learned men of 
Europe. Mr. James Mac Pherson, a Scottish gentleman, gave 
to the world, as you are all doubtless aware, about the year 
1 760, a highly poetic translation of what he pretended to be 
some ancient genuine compositions of Oisin. It is no part of 
the purpose of this Lecture to review the long and teamed 
controversy which followed the publication of these very clever 
imitations of what was then, and for a long time afterwards^ 
believed to be the genuine style of Oisin^s poetry ; but I can- 
not omit to observe, that of all Mac Pherson's translations, in 
no single instance has a genuine Scottish original been found, 
and that none mil ever be found I am very certain. 

The only poems of Oisin with which I am acquainted, that 
can be positively traced back so far as the twelfth century, are 
two, which are found in the Book of Leinster. One of tiiese 
(consisting, indeed, but of seven quatrains) is valuable as a 
record of the great battle of Gabhra, which was fought in A.n. 
284, and in which Oscar, the brave son of Oisin, and CairbrS 
Li/eachair, the monarch of Erinn, fell by each others hands. 
There are two specially important facts preserved in this poem, 
which, whether it be the composition of Oisin or not, is, at all 
events, one of very ancient date; namely, the fact, that the 
monarch Cairbri fought on horseback, and that the poet, who- 
ever he may be, refers to an Ogham inscription on Oscar a 

A perfect and very accurate copy of this poem was published 
in the year 1854, by a society wliich, adoptmg the Scottish in- 
stead of the proper Irish form, calls itself the "Ossianic Society**. 

The second poem of Oisin, preserved in the Book of Lein- 
ster, is of much greater eictent than the first, as it consists of 
fifty-four quatrains, and it is equally, if not more, valuable in 
its contents. 

Oisin, at the time of writing this poem, appears to have 


been blind, and to have been popularly known by the name of lect.xiv. 
Guaire Doll, that is, Guairi "the blind". The Poems 

The occasion of Ae poem appears to have been the holding ascribed to 
of the great fair and festival games of the Lifi^ or Liffey, ^^*' 
which probably were held on the Cuirrech Lif6 (now known 
as the Curragh of Kildare). These games and fairs were of 
frequent occurrence in ancient Erinn, down even to the tenth 
century ; and among the sports on such occasions, horse racing 
appears always to have held a prominent place. 

The poet begins by stating that the king has inaugurated the 
fair; speaks of the happiness of those who can attend it, and 
contrasts their condition with his own, as being incapable, fix)m 
old age and blindness, to participate as he had been accustomed 
to do in these exciting sports. He then gives a vivid account 
of a visit which, in his more youthful days, he had made, along 
with his father, Finn, and a small band of the Fenian warriors, 
to the court of Fiaclia Muilleathan^ K!i^g of Munster, at Bada- 
mar (near the present town of Cahir in Tipperary) ; and of the ^ 

races of Oenach ClocJuzir [now Manister, near Croom, in the 
county of Limerick], which the king had celebrated on the 
occasion of Finn's visit. The winning horse at the course was 
a black steed, belonging to Dill, the son of Dachrica, who was 
the king's tutor. The king purchased the steed from his old 
tutor on the spot, and made a present of it to Finn. Finn and 
his party then took their leave, and passed into the district 
comprised by the present county of Kerry, on to the sandy 
strand of Beramain [near TraleeJ. Here Finn challenged his 
son, Oisin, and his cousin, Caeiltiy to try the speed of their 
choice horses with his black steed on the sandy strand. The 
race is won by Finn ; but, in place of taking rest after it, he 
strikes into the country southward, followed by his two com- 
panions, and they proceed without resting until night comes 
on, when they find themselves at the foot of the hill of Bair- 
nech [near KjUamey]. Here night ovei-took them, and although 
they were well acquainted with the locality, and had never 
known or seen a house there before, they saw one now, which 
they entered without ceremony. This, however, was, it seems, 
no other than an enchanted house, prepared by some of Finn's 
necromantic enemies, in order to frighten and punish him for 
the death of some friends of theirs by his hands. The wild 
horrors of the night in such a place need not here be related ; 
nor shall I delay over details of more solid interest in the stoiy , 
such as the various incidents of Finn's visit to Munster on this 
occasion, and the very curious topographical notices of his pro- 
gress. For all these things I must refer you to the poem itself 




The Poems 
ascribed to 

ascribed to 

This, however, is not veiy^flSoult of study ; and you will 
gain some assistance from arffree metrical translation of it, made 
by our distinguished countryman, Dr. Anster, which was pub- 
lished in the Dublin University Magazine for March and 
April, 1852. 

The next of the Fenian poets is Fergus Finnbheoil (Fergus 
" the Eloquent"), son of Finn Mac CumhailL 

Of this early bard's compositions, I have met but one ge- 
nuinely ancient poem. It occurs in the lost Book of Dinnsen^ 
ehu8j copied into the Books of Lecain and Ballymote, and pro- 
fesses to account for the name of an ancient well or spring 
named Tipra Seangarmna^ situated in the south-eastern part of 
the present county of Kerry, and in which, I believe, the river 
FeilS [Feale] has its source. It would appear from this poem that 
the spring oi Seangarmain issued from a cleft in a rock, or rather 
from a mountain cavern. Oisin, the brother of Fergus, with 
a few followers, were, it would appear, while out himting, in- 
veigled into this cleft or cavern by some of its fairy inhabitants, 
and detained there for a whole year. During all this time Oig(n 
was accustomed to cut a small chip from the nandle of his spear, 
and cast it upon the issuing stream. Finn, his father, who had 
been in search of him all tne time, happening at last to come to 
this stream, saw a chip floating down, took it up, and knew 
immediately that it was part of Oisin's spear, and intended for a 
sign. He therefore followed the stream to its source, entered 
the cavern, and rescued his son and his companions. And this 
is the legend which Fergus relates in the poem, (Book of Bally- 
mote, fol. 202, a. a.) which consists of thirty-mree quatrains, 
and begins [see original in Appendix, No. XCIII.] : 

" The well of Seangarmain, with all its beauty". 

MCTibed™ '^^^ ^^^* ^^ ^*^* ^^ ^^^ ancient Fenian bards is CaeiUi 

caeiiH Mae Mac Hoftain, the cousin of Finn, and one of his officers, the most 

*^'~^**' distinguished both as warrior and poet, but chiefly distinguished 

above all the rest in legendary record by his singular aginty and 

swiftness of foot. 

Of CaeiUS's poems I find but one among our more ancient 
tracts, and this was in the Dinnsenchus, in wnich it is quoted as 
supplying an account of the origin of the name Tonn Chliodhna 
[or Wave of Chliodhna\ which was the ancient name of a strand 
and the waves that broke over it, situated in or near the bay of 
Cloch-na-CoiUti [Clonakilty], on the coast of the county of Cork. 
This poem, like the last, is foimd in the Books of Balljrmote 
and Lecain, and is said to have been simg by the author for 
Saint Patrick. It is not a legend of Finn or his people, but a 


love story, the heroine in which (Cliodhna^ a foreign lady) was lect. xiv: 
unfortunately drowned on this shore, and from whose name was ^^ p^^^ 
derived the appellation of the Wave of Cliodhna. The poem is awribed to 
very ancient, and begins [see original in same Appendix] : — £main, ^^ 

" Cliodhna the fair-haired, long to be remembered'\ 

Having so far described to you such of these very ancient ^^^^^' 
poems as I have found ascribed directly to Finn Mac Cumhaill, T»ie« 
his sons Oisin and Fergus Finnblieoil, and his cousin CaeiltSy I S? ple*^' 
shall now bring under your notice the second class of our Jj^p^^^"* 
ancient imaginative compositions-^namely, those tracts which 
were made up of articles in prose and verse, ascribed to some 
one or more of the personages already mentioned, but related 
by a second person. 

The most important, perhaps the only genuine, tract of this 
class now existing, is that which is well known as the AgaUamh 
na Seandrachj or Dialogue of the Ancient Men. 

These ** ancient men" were Ow/n, the son o{Finn Mac Cumh- i^g ^© 
aill^ and CaeiltSj the son of Cronchu^ son of Ronan^ popularly Ancient 
called Caeilti Mac JRonain, a near relative of Oisin. 

These two chiefs long survived their brethren in arms, and 
are even reported to have lived until the coming of Saint 
Patrick into Erinn to preach Christianity, by whom it is said 
they were converted and baptized. So m the " Dialogue" just 
referred to, then, they are made to give an account to the 
Saint of the situation, the history, and origin of the names of 
various hills, moimtains, rivers, caverns, rocks, wells, moimds, 
shores, etc., throughout Erinn, but more particularly such 
places as derived their names or any celebrity from actions or 
events in which Finn Mac Cumhaill^ or his warriors, had been 
personally engaged or in any way concerned. Of this class of 
compositions we have at present existing, as I have just ob- 
served, but this one tract ; and even this, as far as can be yet 
ascertained, is imperfect There is a large fragment of it pre- 
served in the Book of Lismore, a vellum manuscript written 
about the year 1400; another large fragment, on paper, in the 
Royal Irish Academy [H. and S. Collection, No, 149] ; a more 

Sjnect, but still damaged copy in the Bodleian Library at 
xford FRawlinson, 487] ; and, as far as I am able to judge 
without having seen the book, an older and more perfect copy 
than any of these, if not quite perfect, in the College of St. Isi- 
dore, in Rome. 

This tract, which might almost be called a Topographical 
and Historical Catechism, commences by stating that after the 
disastrous battles of Comar, Gaihra, ana Ollarblia^ the Fianns 

20 b 


LKCT. xiT. or Fenian forces were so shattered and diminished in numbers, 

The"Dto- *^* ^® surviving few of them dispersed themselves over the 

\o^6 of the country, so that Sieir number was at last reduced to eleven — 

i^"?* namely the two good old chiefs, Oisin and CaeiltS, and nine 

common soldiers. After having wandered a long time among 

the new and strange generation that had sprung up aroimd 

them in their native country, the two chiefs agreed to separate 

for a time ; and CHsin went to his mother to the (enchanted) 

mansion of Cleitech, near Slane, while Caeilti passed over M(igh 

Breagh (or Bregia) to the south, and to Saint Patrick, who was 

then sojourning at Raiik-Droma-deirg^ to whom Caeilti related 

his unfortimate stoiy. Saint Patrick was very glad to add so 

remarkable a personage to his congregation, and readily gave 

Caeilti and his few companions a comfortable maintenance in his 


Oisin soon after joined his old friends, and the two chiefi 
thenceforth were Patrick's constant companions in his missionary 
journeys through the country, always giving him the history of 
every place that they visited, and of numberless other places, 
the names of which incidentally occur in the course of the narra- 
tive, as well as the origin of their names, all of which was 
written into a book, for the benefit of ftiture generations, by 
Brogan, Saint Patrick's scribe. 

Tne space allotted to these lectures will not allow me to dwell 
further on this tract than to lay before you one or two exam- 
ples of the nature and style of tne countless articles of which it 
IS composed. 

Saint Patrick, with his travelling missionary retinue, including 
Caeilti J we are told, was one day sitting on the hill which is now 
well known as Ard-Patrick, in the county of Limerick. The 
hill before this time was called Finn Tulach, the Fair (or 
White) Hill, and Patrick asked Caeilti why or when it had 
received that name. Caeilti answered that its first name was 
Tulach-norFeini; but that Finn had afterwards given it the 
name of Finntulach. " And (continued Caeilti) it was from 
this hill that we marched to the great battle of Finntraigh (now 
* Ventry' Harbour)". [See original in Appendix, No. XCIV.] 
"One day that we were on this hill, Finn observed a favoiirite 
warrior of his company, named Ca^l ONeamhain^ coming to- 
wards him, and when he had come to Finn's presence, he asked 
him where he had come from. Cael answered that he had come 
from Brugh in the north (that is the fairy mansion of Brugh^ 
on the Bojme). What was your business there? said Finn. 
To speak to my nurse, Muim, the daughter of Derg, said CaeL 
About what? said Finn. Concerning Credi, the daughter of 


Cairbrij King of Kerry [^Ciaraighe Luachrci]^ said Cad. Do lect.xiv. 
you know, said Finn, that she is the greatest deceiver [flirt, ^^uj^^ 
coquette] among all the women of Erinn ; that there is scarcely logue of the 
a precious gem in all Erinn that she has not obtained as a token u^\^ 
of love ; and that she has not yet accepted the hand of any 
of her admirers? I know it, said Cael; but do vou know the 
conditions on which she would accept a husbana? I do, said 
Finn: whoever is so gifted in the art of poetry as to write a 
poem descriptive of her mansion and its rich furniture, will re- 
ceive her hand. Good, said Cael; I have with the aid of my 
nurse composed such a poem ; and if you will accompany me, 1 
will now repair to her court and present it to her. 

" Finn agreed to this proposal, and having set out on their 
journey they soon arrived at the lady's court, which was situated 
at the foot of the well known mountains called the Pap of 
Anann, in Kerry. When arrived, the lady asked their business. 
Finn answered that Cael came to seek her hand in marria^. 
Has he a poem for me? said she. I have, said CewZ,'^and ne 
then recited the very curious poem, of which the following is a 
literal translation : 

" A joumejT I make on Friday : 
And should I go I shall be a true guest. 
To Credits mansion, — not small the fatigue, — 
At the breast of the mountain on the north-east. 

*' It is destined for me to go there, 
To Credit at the Paps of A^mn, 
That I be there, awaiting sentence, 
Four days and half a week. 

" Happy the house in which she is, 
Between men and children and women. 
Between Druids and musical performers. 
Between cup-bearers and door-keepers, 

"Between equerries without fear, 
And distributors who divide [the fare] ; 
And over all these the command belongs 
To fair Credi of the yellow hair. 

" It would be happy for me to be in her dtin, 
Amon^ her soft and downy couches. 
Should Credi deign to hear [my suit], 
Happy for me would be my journey. 

** A bowl she has whence berry-juice flows, 
By which she colours her eye-brows black ; 
[She has] clear vessels of fermenting ale ; 
Cups she has, and beautiftd goblets. 


LBCT. xnr. 

The "Dia- 

" The colour [of her rfiin] is like the colour of lime ; 
Within it are couches and green rushes ; 
ii^e ^*tbe Within it are silks and blue mantles ; 
Ajoci^t Within it are red gold and crystal cups. 

"Of its Orianan [suimy chamber] the comer stones 
Are all of silver and of vellow gold, — 
Its thatch in stripes of &ultless order. 
Of wings of brown and crimson red. 

"Two door-posts of green I see; 
Nor is its door devoid of beauty ; 
Of carved silver, long has it been renowned. 
Is the lintel that is over its door. 

" Credos chair is on your right hand ; 
The pleasantest of the pleasant it is ; 
All over a blaze erf Alpme gold, 
At the foot of her beautiful couch. 

" A gorgeous couch, in full array, 
Stands directly above the chair; 
It was made by [at?] Tuil4, in the east. 
Of yellow gold and precious stones. 

" There is another bed on your right hand, 
0^ Of gold and silver without defect,— 

With curtains, with soft [pillows], 
And with graceful rods of golden-bronze. 

" The household which are in her house, 
To the happiest of conditions have been destined ; 
Grav and glossy are their garments ; 
Twisted and fair is their flowing hair. 

" Wounded men would sink m sleep, 
Though ever so heavily teeming with blood, 
With the warbHngs of the fairy birds 
From the eaves or her suimy chamber [Grtandn], 

" If I am [i.e,, have cause to be] thankful to the woman. 
To Credit for whom the cuckoo sings, 
In songs of praise she shall ever live. 
If she but repay me for my gift. 

" If it please the daughter of CairbrS, — 
She will not put me off to another time, — 
She will herself say to me here : 
* To me your journey is greatly welcome'. 

" An hundred feet spans Credits house 
From one angle to the other; 
And twenty feet are fully measured 
In the breadth of its noble door. 



" Its portico is thatched 

With wmgs of birds both blue and yellow ; ^^ „p^ 

Its lawn in front, and its well, iogu«of the 

Of crystal and of carmogal. Men*'* 

" Four posts to every bed [there are], 
Of gold and silver finely carved, — 
A crystal gem between each post, — 
They are not of unpleasant heads. [See Appendix.] 

*' There is in it a vat of royal bronze, 
Whence flows the pleasant juice of malt ; 
An apple-tree stands overhead the vat 
With the abundance of its weighty fruit. 

'* When Credo's goblet is fiUed 
With the ale of the noble vat, 
There drop down into the cup directly 
Four apples at the same time, 

" The four attendants [distributors] that have been named. 
Arise and go to the distribution ; 
Thejr present to four of the guests around, 
A drink to each man, and an apple. 

" She, who has all these things, — 
Within the strand and the flood, [see Appendix] ^ 

CredS of the three-pointed-hill, — 
Has taken [{.«., won by] a spear's cast before the women of Erinn. 

" Here is a poem for her, no mean present. 
It is not a hasty rash composition : 
To Crede now it is here presented — 
May my journey be brightness to her". 

The yoimg lady was, it seems, delighted with this poem, 
and readily consented to become the wife of the gifted Cdel; 
and their marriage, we are told, took place soon after. Their 
happiness was, however, of short duration ; for C(iel was almost 
immediately called away to the great battle of Ventry Harbour, 
where he was killed in the nudst of victory, fighting against 
the host of foreign invaders. Credi had followed him to the 
battle-field, and received his last sighs of affection for herself, 
and of exultation for having died in his country's cause. He 
was buried by his comrades on the south side of the harbour 
in a place which was (after him, it is said) called Traigh Caeil^ 
or the strand of Gael CrSde composed an elegy for him, 
which is valuable to us, among other things, as containing 
some curious allusions to ancient customs, as well as a descrip- 
tion of the grave of her lover and the manner of his interment. 

I think 1 need offer no apology for detaining you so long 


LBCT.nv. with tke details of this singularly interesting little poem. I 

Th« -DU- ^^^ ^^^y 6^^^ y^^' ^ ^ ^^^ words, one other example of the 
logueoftiM varied sort of information which will be foimd in the tract at 
Men"!"* present imder consideration, and then pass from the ** Dialogue 
of the Ancient Men" for the present. 

Saint Patrick, we are told in it, receives an invitadon from 
the king of Connacht to visit his country. He sets out from 
Ard Patrick, passes through Limerick, Cratloe, Sliabh Echtghij 
and many other places, into Ui Mainiy and to the court of the 
king of Connacht at Loch Croini (in the present county of Ros- 
common), where he was joyfully and reverently received. 

One day that they were seated on a green mound in the 
vicinity of the palace, a young Munster warrior, who was at- 
tached to the king's court, put me following questions to CaeHtS 
with Patrick's consent. Where did Oilioll Oluiniy [the cele- 
brated king of Munster,] and his wife Sadhbhj die, and where 
were they buried ? Where did their seven sons die in one day ? 
Who were the parties that fought the battle of Cnoc Samhna, 
in Tipperary? Where and how did Cormac Gas [another 
son o\ Oilioll Oluirn] die? etc. Caeilt4 answers all these ques- 
tions, and tells how the battle of Cnoc Samhna was fought 
between Eochaidh Abradruadh [the Red Browed], King of 
Leinster, and Cormac Cas; how the latter received a fearful 
wound in the head ; and how after lingering for thirteen years 
in great agony, he died at Dun Tri-Liag^ that is, the Dim (or 
fort) of the three pillar stones [now Duntrileague, in the coimty 
of Limerick], which was specially built for his particular accom- 
modation ; together with many other similar details. 

From the nature of these questions, and the copious answers 
which Caeilti is always made to give, it will be seen that this, 
as well as the other articles in this valuable tract, must be ftdl 
of curious and really valuable historical information. 

Of others Besides the pieces of which I have already spoken, a large 

feSIk collection of Fenian poems, chiefly ascribed to Oisin^ but some 
roKM8. of them also to his brother poets, is to be found in our paper 
MSS. of the last 200 years ; most of these manuscripts bemg 
transcripts, as I have already observed, from books of much 
older date. These poems are generally given as dialogues be- 
tween Oisin and Samt Patrick ; but they seldom contain much 
matter illustrative either of topography or social manners. 

The most popular, as well as tne largest, of this class of 
poems is that which is known as Cath Chnuic an Air^ the batde 
of the Hill of Slaughter ; but as no details of topography arc 
given in it — ^not even the situation of the Hill ot Battle — and 


as the foes were little more than three or four foreign champions, lect. xit. 
the piece is of little historic value. 

The next and last class are the Prose Tales, of which the of the 
following are the chief, if not all, that are at present known : ^H^ 
the Toruigheacht Dhiarmada is Ghrdini^ or Pursuit odHarmaid ^ ^o«^ 
and Grainni; the Cath Finntrdgha, or Battle of Ventry Har- 
bour (in Kerry) ; the Bruighean Chaerihainn^ or Mountain-ash 
Court; the Lntheacht an Ghilla Deacair^ or Flight of the 
Slothful Fellow ; Bruighean Clieiai an Chorainn^ or the Court of 
Ceis Corann; the Bruigliean Eochaidh Big Deirg^ or Court of 
Little Red Eochaidh; the Bruighean bheag na h-Almhainiy 
or Little Court of Ahnhain (or Allen) ; and the Feis TighS 
Chondin Chinn t-SleihhSj or Feast of Conan's House of Ceann 

Of these, the only tale founded on fact, or, at least, on 
ancient authority (though romantically told), is one in which 
Finn himself was deeply interested. It is the pursuit of Diar- 
maid and Grainni, The facts on which it is founded are 
shortly these. 

Finn, in his old age, solicited the monarch Cormac Mac The Taie of 
Art for the hand of his celebrated daughter Grainne in mar- ofiiJ?^'"^* 
riage. Cormac agreed to the hero s proposal, and invited Finn ^^*^ "JJp! 
to go to Tara, to obtain from the princess herself her consent 
(which was necessary in such matters in those days in Erinn) 
to their union. Finn, on this invitation, proceeded to Tara, 
attended by a chosen body of his warriors, and among these were 
his son Oisin, his grandson Oscar, and ZHarmaid O'Duibhni, 
one of his chief officers, a man of fine person and most fasci- 
nating manners. A magnificent feast was of course provided, 
at which the monarch presided, surrounded by all the great 
men of his court, among whom the Fenians were accorded a 
distinguished place. 

It appears to have been a custom at great feasts in ancient 
Erinn ibr^the mistress of the mansion, or some other distin- 
guished lady, to fill her own rich and favourite drinking-cup 
or glass from a select vessel of choicest Uquor, and to send it 
round by her own favourite maid in waiting to the chief 
gentlemen of the company, to be sent round again by them to 
a certain number (which was, I believe, four), in their im- 
mediate vicinity, so that every one of those invited should 
in turn enjoy the distinction of participating in this gracious 
favour. On the present occasion the lady Grainni did the 

(«&) The flrst and la«t named of the abore-nientioned tales have been pub- 
lished once this Lecture was deliyered by the Ossianic Society. 




honours of her royal father's court, and sent round her favourite 

Of the ^^P ^cordingly, until all had drank from it, Oisin and Diar- 
fkniah maid ODuibhni alone excepted. Scarcely had the company 
JjJS'" uttered their praises of the hquor and their profound acknow- 
SS** Pm?.**' ledgments to the princess, than they all, almost simultaneously, 
SSw Md"^ fell into a heavy sleep. 

<?Ai<fi!3".) The liquor was of course drugged for this purpose, and no 
sooner had Grainni perceived the full success of ner scheme, 
than she went and sat by the side of Oisin and Diarmaidy and, 
addressing the former, complained to him of the folly of his 
father Finn, in expecting that a maiden of her youth, beauty, 
and celebrity, could ever consent to become the wife of so old 
and war-worn a man ; that if Oisin himself were to seek her 
hand she should gladly accept him ; but since that could not 
now be, that she had no chance of escaping the evil which her 
father's temerity had brought upon her but by flight; and as 
Ois{n could not dishonour his mther by being her partner in 
such a proceeding, she conjured Diarmaid by his manliness, 
and by his vows of chivalry, to take her away, to make her his 
wife, and thus to save her from a fate to which she preferred 
even death itself. 

After much persuasion (for the consequences of so grievous 
an offence to his leader must necessarily be serious) Diarmaid 
consented to the elopement ; the parties took a hasty leave of 
Oisin; and as the royal palace was not very strictly guarded on 
such an occasion, Grainni found little difficulty in escaping the 
vigilance of the attendants, and gaining the open country 
with her companion. 

When the monarch and Finn awoke from their trance, their 
rage was boundless; both of them vowed vengeance against 
the imhappy delinquents ; and Finn immediately set out from 
Tara in pursuit of them. He sent parties of his swiftest and 
best men to all parts of the country ; but Diarmmd was such a 
favourite with his brethren in arms, and the peculiar circimi- 
stances of the elopement invested it with so much sympathy 
on the part of those voimg heroes, that they never could dis- 
cover the retreat of the offenders, excepting when Finn him- 
self happened to be of the party that immediately pursued 
them, and then they were sure to make their escape by some 
wonderful stratagem or feat of agility on the part o\ Diarmaid. 
This, then, was the celebrated Pursuit of Diarmmd and 
Grainni. It extended all over Erinn ; and in the description 
of the progress of it, a great amount of curious information on 
topography, the natural productions of various localities, social 
manners, and more ancient tales and superstitions, is introduced. 


The flight of Diarmaid and Grainni is mentioned in several lbct. xiv. 
of our ancient manuscripts, and the popular traditions through- ~TT 
out the country point to those ancient monuments, vulgarly fbniak 
called Cromlechs^ as their resting and hiding places, many of Jj^^/" 
which are still commonly, though of course without any reason, £J® jjf* ^' 
called Leabthacha Dhiarmada is Ghrainni^ or the Beds o£ Di- suitof/jwr- 
armaid and Grainni. [See Appendix, No. XCV.] S^a^nJS-*^.) 

The next Fenian tale that claims attention is that which is The Taie of 
80 popularly known as Cath Finntrdgha, the Battle of the ot^Fin^- 
White Strand (a name now Anglicized Ventry Harbour, — ^in ven25"°' 
west of Kerry). 

That this IS an ancient tale mav be inferred from the mention 
of it made in the story of the unfortunate lovers Gael and CredS 
just mentioned, as well as from a damaged copy of it on vellum, 
which is preserved in an old manuscript in the Bodleian Library 
at Oxford [Rawlinson, 487] ; but the paper copies of it, which 
are numerous in Ireland, are very much corrupted in language, 
and interpolated with trivial and incongruous incidents. The 
tale is a pure fiction, but related with considerable force and in 
a hiffhly popular style. 

The tale commences with the statement that Dairi Dornmhar^ 
according to the author the emperor of the whole world ex- 
cept Erinn, calls together all the tributary kings of his empire 
to join him in an expedition to Erinn, to subjugate it and to 
enforce tribute. He arrives with a great fleet at Glas Charraig 
[now the " Skellig Rocks", on the coast of Kerry], piloted by 
Glas Mac Dremain, a soldier of Kerry, who had oeen pre- 
viously banished by Finn Mac CumhailL This Glas Mac 
Dremain^ who was well acquainted with his native coast, brought 
the fleet safely into the noble harbour oiFinntrdigh (or Ventry), 
from which place the emperor determined to subdue the country. 

Finn had at all times some of his trusty warriors, vigilant 
and swift of foot, posted at all the harbours of the country, for 
the purpose of givmg him timely information of the approach 
or landmg of any foreign foe on the island ; and not the least 
important, as well as interesting, part of this tale is the list of 
these harbours, with their ancient as well as their more modem 

At the actual time of this invasion, Finn, with the main 
body of his warriors, was enjoying the pleasures of swimming 
and fishing in the waters of the nver Snannon, where a mes- 
senger from his warden at Ventry reached him with ihe impor- 
tant news. In the meantime, the news also reached several 
chiefs and warriors of the TSiatha Di Danann race, who were 



LECT. xnr. 

Of the 
Talks in 
Proae. (Th« 
Tale of the 
" Battle 
of Finn- 
trdigha^ or 

located in Ui Chonaill Gahhra pn the present county of lime- 
rick], and several of these, simultaneously with Finn, set out 
for V entry, where they all arrived in due time, and imme- 
diately entered upon a series of combats with the foreign enemy. 

Tidings of the invasion were soon carried into Ulster also ; 
and Gall, the son of Fiacha Foltleathan^ king of that province, 
a youth of fifteen, obtained leave fix)m his father to come to 
Finn's assistance, at the head of a fine band of young volun- 
teers from Ulster. Young GralFs ardour, however, cost him 
rather dear; for having entered the battle with extreme eager- 
ness, his excitement soon increased to absolute firenzy, and idler 
having performed astounding deeds of valour, he fled in a state 
of derangement from the scene of slaughter, and never stopped 
until he plunged into the wild seclusion of a deep glen far up 
the country. This glen has ever since been called Glenn-na- 
n-Gealt, or the Glen of the Lunatics, and it is even to this day 
believed in the south, that all the lunatics of Erinn would re- 
sort to this spot if they were allowed to be at large. 

The siege, as it may be called, of Ventry Harbour, held for 
twelve months and a day ; but at length the foreign foe was 
beaten off with the loss of all his best men, and indeed of nearly 
the whole of his army ; and thus Finn and his brave warriors, 
as was their long custom (would that we had had worthy suc- 
cessors to them m after times !), preserved the liberty and inte- 
tegrity of their native land. 

This tale of the Battle of Ventry is of no absolute value as 
historic authority for the incidents related in it; but the many 
names of places, and the various manners and customs tradi- 
tionally handed down and preserved in it, render it of consi- 
derable interest to the student in Irish history. 

The Talc of The ucxt Fcnian tale which requires notice is one which 
if the'st??h- is well known under the name of the Imtheacht an Ghiolla 
fui Fellow. Deacair, or "Flight of the Slothfiil Fellow". 

On one occasion that Finn Mac Cumhaill gave a great feast 
to his officers and men, at his own court at Almhain [the 
Hill of Allen, in the present county of Kildare], it was deter- 
mined to go into Munster on a hunting excursion. The feast 
being over, they set out with their dogs and hounds, and after 
having passed through several places of historical celebrity, 
which are named in tne tract, they arrived at last at Cnoc AinS 
[now called Knockany], in the jjresent county of Limerick. 
Here Finn took his stand, and setting up his tent on the top of 
the hill, he despatched his warriors and their hounds in vanous 
groups to the long range of mountains which divide the present 


counties of Limerick, Cork, and Kerry. The chase was com- lect, mv. 
menced with ardour and prosecuted with increasing excitement ^^^^ 
through the mountains already mentioned, and then into the fewiak 
game-aboimding wilds of Kerry. pJ?^ (The 

When Finn had established ms temporary residence on Knock- T^^i^it^t 
any, he placed a scout on the brow of the hill to keep watch, ^^siothfui 
while he himself, with his few attendants, sought amusement in 
a game of chess. While thus engaged, the scout returned with 
news tliat he saw a man of great and imwieldy bulk slowly ap- 
proaching them from the east, leading a horse, which he seemed 
to be dragging after him by msdn force. Finn and his party 
immediately started to their feet ; and although the stranger 
was but a sliort distance from them, so slow was his movement, 
that some considerable time elapsed before he reached their 
presence. Having arrived before them at last, Finn questioned 
him as to his name, race, country, profession, and the object of 
his visit. The stranger answered that his pedigree and country 
were undistinguished and uncertain ; that his name was Giolta 
Deacair, or the " Slothful Fellow" ; and that he was seeking ser- 
vice imder some distinguished master ; and that being slow and 
very lazy, he kept a horse for the purpose of riding whenever 
he was sent upon a message or errand. The latter part of the 
answer afforded Finn and his friends matter for merriment, 
as the horse, from his gaimt and dying appearance, seemed 
to be less desirous of carrying any burden than of being carried 

However, Finn took the " Slothful Fellow" into his service ; 
upon which the latter requested and obtained permission to 
turn his old horse out among the horses of the Fenian party. 

No sooner, however, had the old horse found himself among 
his better conditioned neighbours, than he began to kick, bite, 
and tear them at a fearful rate. Finn immediately ordered the 
new servant to go and bring his wicked beast away. This the 
servant set about doing, but so slow was his movement that all 
the horses in the field would have been torn to pieces before he 
coidd have reached them, though the distance was but short. 

Conan Mac Moma, who may be described as the Fenian 
Thersites, seeing his own steed attacked by the malignant ani- 
mal, went boldly up to him, cauffht hold of him, and endea- 
voured to lead him off from the held- But no sooner was the 
old beast laid hold of, than he seemed to have lost all power of 
life and limb, and stir he would not. His owner, however, 
having come up by this time, told Conan that the horse was 
not accustomed to move with strangers except when ridden; 
whereupon Conan moimted him, but neither would he move 


LBCT. XIV . then any more than before. The new servant then said that 
Of the Conan was too light for the horse, which was accustomed to 
kkkiak move only with a weighty load, and pressed the other men of 
ProS "(The Finn's party to mount along with Conan, whioh they did to the 
" FHgM of iiui'iher of twelve. The owner now dealt the old horse a smart 
*he siothftii blow of an iron rod which he always carried for that purpose. 
No sooner had the horse received tliis blow than he started oflp 
at a rapid speed with his burden in a western direction towards 
the sea, followed by Finn and the few of his party who had re- 
mained with him. Having reached the sea, the horse plunged 
in, and the waves immediately opened a drv passage far m front, 
but closed up after him, the ** Slotliful Fellow" holding fast by 
his tail. 

It ife sufficient to say that the riders were carried by enchant- 
ment to a foreign unknown country; that Finn and a select 
party followed them in a ship; and that after much of wild 
and extravagant adventure, they were discovered and brought 
home again. 

These two last tales that I have been just describing, and 
another called the Bruighean Chderthainn^ still existing, are 
mentioned by Dr. Keting, in his History of Erinn, at the reign 
of Cormac Mac Art, as among the many romantic tales written 
of Finn Mac Cumhaill and his warriors, existing in his own 
time, say about the year 1630. 

In describing to you these early Fenian Tales, I have, m 
fact, made you acquainted with the general scope of the nu- 
merous tales of a purely imaginative character which come after 
them in the chronological order of the pieces of ancient litera- 
^ , ture which have been presented to us. For my present purpose 

^ it is, therefore, unnecessary to give you any examples of the 

latter in detail. The value of all of them to the student of 
mere history, consists only, as I have already said, in the records 
of ancient topography, and in the glimpses of life, manners, and 
customs, which they contain ; and important as they are in so 
many other ways to the student of the Graedhlic language and 
literature, a more minute examination of them must be reserved 
tiU such time as, in another course of lectures, it may become 
my duty to treat of those special subjects. 

Of these Imasjinative Tales of ancient date, some older than 
those called Fenian, of which I have been speaking, some not so 
old, I shall, then, at present, only ^ve you the titles of some of 
the more important ; and I may particularly name : — The Adven- 
tures of Brian, the son of Feabhall; of Conla Ruadh; of Cor- 
mac Mac Art, in the land of promise ; of Tadhg (or Teige) 


Mac Cein; the exile of the sons of Duil Dearmart; the court- lect. x. 
ship of Etain; of Beag Fola; and the death of Aithim^. ^^^^^^ 
Copies of these are preserved in vellum ; and of the following ancient 
there are copies on paper. The Adventures of Conall Gxdban ; TlxEsta"^ 
the great battle of muirtheimni and death of Cuchulainn; the y^p'JJ.**"* 
Red Route of Conall Ceamach (to avenge that death) ; and die 
tales called the Three Sorrowful Stories of Erinn — ^namely, the 
Story of the tragical fate of the children of Lear; the Story 
of the children of Uisnech; and the Story of the sons of Tui- 
reann, etc. 

These various tales were composed at various dates, but all, 
I believe, anterior to the year 1000. 

In conclusion, I have only to indicate to you the extent of 
our existing manuscript treasures in this department of litera- 
ture, by stating roughly, as before, the quantity of letterpress 
which they would fill, if printed at length in the same form as 
the text of O'Donovan's Four Masters. 

The Gaedhlic text of the Fenian poems and tales, then, may 
be calculated as extensive enough to occupy about 3000 pages 
of such volimies ; and I believe the text of the mass of the other 
tales of which I have spoken, would extend to at least 5000 
pages more. 

xou may thus form to yourselves some idea of the amoimt of 
that literature, — small a portion of it as has, in any form, come 
down to us, — which awaits your study whenever you qualify 
yoiurselves to open its pages by making yourselves acquainted 
with that ancient tongue, so long neglected by the present des- 
cendants of the Gaedhils of your coimtry. And in estimating 
the literary value of the compositions of this class (of which so 
very great a number remain to us), remember you are not to be 
guided by the remarks I have made respecting their merely 
historical importance. Perhaps their chief claim, after all, to 
your attention would be found to lie in their literary merits, and 
in the richly imaginative language in which they are written. 
Let me, then, always remind you, that in these Lectures I still 
confine myself strictly to my subject, — ^the materials of the An- 
cient History of Erinn ; and that the subject of our Literature 
must be reserved for another course. 


DaBrend Ibroh IB. 18S&.3* 

Of the remaiiifl of the early Christian period. Of the Domhnack Airgid. Of 
the Cathach. Of the L^nd of the Cuilefadh, Of the Reliquaries, Shrines, 
Croddere, Bells, and other relics, stiU presenred, of the first centuries of 
ChriBtianity in Erinn. 

We have now brought to a close the too inadequate sketch 
which the necessary limits of a general course like the present 
permitted, of the nature and extent of the existing MS. mate- 
rials for the elucidation of the general History of Erinn ; mate- 
rials which, I hope, I have shown to be most abundant for the 
purpose, if only used with proper judgment, and after the mi- 
nute investigation and careful compaiison among themselves 
which the various classes of these interesting historical and lite- 
rary remains of ancient times require at the hands of the histo- 
rian. There is, however, a special branch of our history con- 
cerning which from this place it must be expected that I should 
say something more than I have yet done ; and the rather that 
the authentic materials out of which it may be easily constructed 
in the fullest detail are singularly rich and varied, considering 
their great antiquity. I allude to the History of the early ages 
of the Church, from the introduction of Christianity into tnis 
island in the beginning of the Fifth Century. The investiga- 
tion of our early Christian remains in connection with the His- 
tory of the country, appears to me indeed to be a duty which 
of necessity devolves on me, when I consider the character of 
the Institution in which I have the honour to fill a chair ; and 
not the less so, perhaps, in consideration of the distinguished 
part in the history of the Church itself taken by our ancestors, 
not only at home, but throughout a great part of Europe, in the 
early centuries of Christianity. 

"Hibemia Sacra" and "Island of the Saints" are time-ho- 
noured names, of which our country may well be proud ; but few 
of us, at present, know on what her claims to such distinctions 

* Of thfl Twmrty-one Lactnrei of the praient oooim, Biz onl^ wen doUvered In lfl6&. Six In th« ipainf of 1896, 
and the remidnbig Nino In the ■ommer of the Utter joar. After the Fourth Loctare had been dellvmd, howwer 
'In March, 18&5), it wm thooi^t advisable that, on the occanon of the opening of the Chair of Irish HIatorj- and 
*■ " rrm r 

ATciueoiuwr In the Catholic I/nlTonlty, the subjoet of Christian AxdbmalogyJn Ireland shoald be fVrauumiHw^ 
introdnccd; and the Fifth and Sixth Lectured aetaally deUrered were acecwdlnffly those which now appear In 
thdr pn/pm phuse aa Nos. XV. and XVI. of the whole scries. The dates assigned to Lectares V. to XII. (ante) 
have unfortunately been Incorrectly printed, in owoaeqiuooe of a mletafca In the list AunUted fay the IWrenity 
Becretaiy to the printer (see List of Brrata). 


rest: thoughi, as I hope to show, abundant evidences of them lect. xv. 
yet remain in our all but unexplored manuscript records, as well j^^ 
as in the numerous relics of ancient art which have been handed the existing 
down to us, and in the ruins of the towers, the churches, and the th^elS^iy^' 
sculptured crosses which cover the land, all forming an impe- SSiS^ 
lishable and irre&agable monument of the Christian mth of an- bi^. 
cient Erinn. 

In remains illustrative of her early Christian times, it mav, 
without the least exaggeration, be said that Ireland is singularly 
rich. The fidth and devotion of her people, preserved with 
heroic constancy through ages of the most crushmg oppression, 
have been the theme of many an eloquent pen. But, perhaps, 
in no way have these national virtues ever been more strikingly 
exhibited than in the transmission to our own days of the nume- 
rous sacred relics which we still possess, and of which some can 
be traced to a period coeval with the very introduction of 
Christianity into the island. 

The chief objects of interest to the Christian archaeologist in 
Ireland are of two classes. One of these comprises various very 
ancient copies of the Gospels, and of some other parts of the 
Sacred Scrijptures. The other includes a great variety of 
examples ot ancient ecclesiastical art, especia&y works in the 
metals, the most beautiful of which are to be found in our great 
nationsd collection, the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy ; 
such as Shrines, Bells, Croziers, Crosses, etc., etc. 

Adequately to illustrate these various relics would require in 
itself an ex^tensive course of lectures ; it is not my intention, 
therefore, to do more than present you with some short notices 
of the most remarkable of them, in the hope that a taste may be 
thus awakened amongst the students of tnis University for the 
cultivation of this branch of Irish aichseology . It is one which 
wins from foreign visitors to our museums the most enthusiastic 
expressions of admiration, but which is not yet as extensively 
appreciated amongst ourselves as it deserves to be. 

Of the ancient Irish copies of the sacred writings, two are of 
such extraordinary antiauity, and present such a very remark- 
able history, that it will be necessary to give a somewhat de- 
tailed account of them. These are, 1^. that known as the Domh- 
naeh Airgid; a copy of the four Gospels, once, we have just 
reason to believe, the companion in nis hours of devotion of 
our Patron Saint, the Apostle Saint Patrick ; 2°. the MS. called 
the Cathach^ or '* Book of Battles'* ; a MS. containing a copy of 
the Psalms, which there is scarcely less ground for supposing to 
have been actually traced by the pen of St. Colum Ciul 



LECT.xv. The DoMHKACH AiROiD has been well described by my dear 
^^^ and honoured friend, Dr. Petrie, the most accomplished anti- 
DoMHNACH quorian whom Ireland has yet produced, and to whom, in so 
^"*"*' eminent a manner, is due the revival of the cultivation of Irish 
literature and antiquities. 

This relic, like many others of its kind which we possess, but 
which are of more modem date, presents two separate subjects 
for our consideration, — the ancient manuscript itself, and the 
shrine, casket, or box in which it is enclosed. These latter 
are in such cases usually the works of various hands, and of 
different centuries, bearing evidence of the veneration in which 
the precious relics contained in them continued to be held by 
successive generations, and often containing inscriptions in still 
legible characters, recording the pious care of the prince, the 
noble, or the ecclesiastic, who restored or repaired the orna- 
mental cases in which their predecessors had enshrined the MSS. 

The following description of the Domhnach Airgid is taken 
from Dr. Petrie^s communication to the Royal Irish Academy 
(Transactions, Vol. xviii.) in which collection the Domhnach is 
now placed. 

'^ In its present state'', says Dr. Petrie, *^ this ancient remain 
appears to have been equally designed as a shrine for the pre- 
servation of relics and of a book ; but the latter was probably 
its sole original use. 

*' Its form is that of an oblong box, nine inches by seven, and 
five inches in height. 

" This box is composed of three distinct covers, of which the 
first, or inner one, is of wood, — apparently yew ; the second, or 
middle one, of copper, plated with silver ; and the third, or 
outer one, of silver, plated with gold. 

"In the comparative ages of these several covers, there is 
obviously a great difference. The first may probably be co- 
eval with the manuscript which it was intended to preserve; 
the second, in the style of its scroll, or interlaced ornament, in- 
dicates a period between the sixth and twelfth centuries ; while 
the figures in relief, the ornaments, and the letters on the third, 
or outer cover, leave no doubt of its being the work of the 
fourteenth century. 

" This last, or external cover, is